Only 12% of tickets to Rio Paralympics have been sold

Iconic Olympics ads through the years
Iconic Olympics ads through the years

If you thought it was tough to host the Rio Olympics, you ain't seen nothing yet.

The upcoming Paralympic Games are suffering from abysmal ticket sales and a lack of sponsors, which is leading to major budget shortfalls and probable spending cuts.

Just 12% of tickets have been sold for the September event, even though the majority are being offered for roughly $3 each.

Sales are especially poor when you consider that the London Paralympics attracted a nearly sold-out crowd. Organizers had to expand seating to accommodate nearly 2.8 million ticket holders, according to the International Paralympic Committee.

As it stands now, only 300,000 of the 2.5 million available tickets have been sold for the Rio Paralympics.

Organizers are hoping that as Rio Olympic ticket sales keep rising -- with about 88% sold out of 6.5 million -- there will be a positive knock-on effect on the Paralympics. People tend to start purchasing Paralympic tickets when Olympic sports sell out.

In the meantime, organizers say they're trying to collect some last-minute financing from city and government sources to ensure the competition for disabled athletes runs smoothly.

"The management of cash ... sometimes makes [you] feel it is not going to happen," said Mario Andrada, a top spokesperson for Rio 2016. "We have enough friends, we have enough .... to fix all the problems. We did that in the Olympics, we are going to do this in the Paralympics."

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Rio 2016 organizers won't disclose how much of a budget shortfall they're currently facing, but Andrada said the Brazilian government and the city's mayor are willing to give an additional 250 million Brazilian reais ($79 million).

The mayor of Rio de Janeiro confirmed he has set aside as much as 150 million Brazilian reais ($47 million) in funding.

However, a judge is currently blocking the transfer of funds, saying the money shouldn't be granted to a private institution that isn't transparent about its finances.

paralympics race budget
Paralympic ticket sales were hot in London in 2012. But demand has cooled in 2016.

The budget problems are especially worrying for Paralympians that are waiting to fly over for the Games. Organizers are two weeks late providing travel grant money that athletes use to travel to the event.

Andrada said Monday that getting this travel money out was his "first priority."

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