Team GB Paralympian Karen Darke has launched a crowd-funding campaign in light of the budget cuts facing the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games starting on 7 September. The lack of funds are likely to see a number of cutbacks with the main affected areas being the workforce deployed, the transport services for the athletes and shutting down of a number of venues and media centers, which could affect the overall coverage of the games.
International Paralympic Committee president Sir Philip Craven has admitted that this was the first time the Paralympic Games were facing such a crisis in its 56-year history. Another reason for the budget cuts has been the lack of ticket sales, with just 300,000 sold out of the 2.4m available for the event.
The lack of ticket sales and funds also meant that the organisers were late in paying €8m (£7m, $9m) in travel grants to allow teams to travel to Rio for the games. The event's organisers were meant to pay all 165 countries to allow them to travel for the games in July, but the delay meant that the first installment of the payment has just been released. Despite making the payment, the IPC president believes that at least 10 countries could struggle to make the games.
"Currently we have around 10 countries who, even if the grants are paid, may struggle to cover the cost of their travel to the Games," a statement from the president read on the official Paralympic Games site.
"Never before in the 56-year history of the Paralympic Games have we faced circumstances like this," he added.
"These cuts are on top of the ones we, together with the IOC, have already made in the last 12 months and are likely to impact nearly every stakeholder attending the Games."
"We are working desperately hard to protect athlete services, especially within the field of play. They have dedicated their lives to reaching these Games and we will do our utmost to try and maintain the service levels and scope that they expect at a Paralympic Games," the IPC president explained.
The overall broadcast is also at risk due to the budget cuts and a number of sports are unlikely to receive the amount of coverage they got at the London Games in 2012. This has prompted Team GB hand-cyclist Darke to start a crowd-funding campaign to be able to take a film crew to Rio and make a video featuring the "behind the scenes" stories of para-cyclists in Rio, while also providing an insight in to the impact of the games to inspire others.
"I am passionate about the positive impact that cycling can have for everyone, but particularly with a disability where your mobility is perhaps limited in some way. I really want to show some of the 'behind the scenes stories' of para-cyclists in Rio, many of whom I know have come through great personal challenges to be there competing.Therefore I invited Lina and Luis from Al Aire Films to accompany me to Rio to make a film that shows the emotions, good-feelings (and challenges!) that para-cycling generates," Darke told PledgeSports.org.
The film's crew are providing their services on a voluntary basis, but there are a number of costs involved in taking them to and setting them up in Rio, for which the 2012 London silver medalist is raising funds.
For more information on the campaign, please visit: https://www.pledgesports.org/projects/stories-of-para-riders-in-rio/