Paralympic Woes

Rio 2016 Paralympic Games logo

Paralympics dramatically scaled back due to budget crisis
Marissa Payne, Washington Post - August 19, 2016

Budget shortfall forces major Paralympics cutbacks
Stephanie Nolan, Globe and Mail - August 20, 2016

Rio Paralympics 2016: Games to go ahead with major budget cuts
BBC, Disability Sport - August 20, 2016

I'm not sure what to think about the budget shortfall and planned scale-backs of the Paralympic Games in Rio. It seems like an outgrowth of corruption problems in Brazil. Actually, it might be more accurate to say that the Paralympics are going to suffer as a side effect of some possibly just and noble efforts within Brazil to crack down on corruption. I want the Paralympics to be fully funded, but I'm not sure it would be good for Brazil if this happens through personal intervention from Mayors and Interim Presidents who are themselves under scrutiny for corruption. At any rate, the pros and cons of that are up to Brazilians.

More importantly, all this is only to address a funding shortfall that seems to have been caused by poor ticket sales. Is this the same shortfall we've seen in just about every Olympic event in Rio so far, held in quarter-to-half empty venues? Or, is it worse because even fewer people want to buy tickets to see Paralympic events?

If that's the case, why exactly? Is it the obvious answer ... that non-disabled people generally don't think of Paralympics sports as "real" in the way Olympic Track & Field and Swimming are? If that’s the case, I’ve got to wonder after watching BMX racing, golf, and ping-pong presented as “regular” Olympic sports. Are Paralympics considered "lesser" events? How well do most people even understand what the Paralympics are? I am an active part of the disability community, but last time I wrote about the Paralympics I got comments that showed me how little actually I knew about them.

We'll see how the events actually play out next month. Maybe it will be really cool. Maybe the publicity about budget shortfalls and cutbacks will raise interest in the Paralympics. Maybe some private benefactors will step up at the last minute.

In the meantime, it seems like the main takeaway is that once again, when things get hard and choices have to be made, the disability-related thing is left with the fuzzy end of the lollipop.

Maybe a merger IS the answer.