Rio Paralympics 2016: Situation ‘precarious’ over travel grant delays

Paralympics Brazil

Athletes’ chances of travelling to the Paralympics in Rio are “precarious” despite a day of emergency talks, says International Paralympic Committee president Philip Craven.

That dreaded word “delay” always seems to show up when major sporting events are discussed. The Olympics, and more specifically in this case the Paralympics is no exception. This time it’s the poor athletes that are suffering as their grants are late. As reported in August by the BBC a sum of seven million pounds in travel grants is two weeks late.

Athletes’ chances of travelling to the Paralympics in Rio are “precarious” despite a day of emergency talks, says International Paralympic Committee president Philip Craven.

Rio 2016’s organising committee is two weeks late in paying 8m euros (£7m) in travel grants to athletes.

It is thought up to 50 nations may be unable to afford to send athletes to the Games, which start on 7 September.

Rio mayor Eduardo Paes has promised to cover the costs.

However, there is an injunction on the use of government funds.

The grants, paid to national Paralympic bodies, cover the travel costs for athletes and officials.

The IPC said reports that the Games will not go ahead were “unfounded”, but that cuts would be made to services if no extra funding was available.

Although Paes said he was prepared to provide BRL 150 million (£36.5m), funding from municipal and federal governments cannot used unless organisers are transparent with their financial records.

Craven added: “The organising committee has now committed to paying these grants by the end of the month.

“Failure to do so could result in a number of countries being unable to attend the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.”

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who won 16 Paralympic medals, including 11 gold, for Great Britain, said she was shocked by the scale of the problem.

She told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight that any cuts would set “a negative tone for the Games”, adding: “This has to be sorted as soon as possible.”

Two weeks is not a long time but if you have no money it can seem like forever. And while the time scale might seem small, depending on your circumstances, seven million pounds is certainly not insignificant. I hope the athletes had other access to funds as getting ready for a major event when you’re skint is, I can imagine, extremely stressful!

via BBC News – World http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/disability-sport/37090600