By Georgia Grimond, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The interim sports minister for Brazil, Ricardo Leyser, has launched a task force that will aim to secure the purchase of more tickets to the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games, which begin in August. With just four months to go until the events, the government has expressed concern over disappointing ticket sales.
Leyser is the successor to George Hilton who resigned his position on March 30th amid political maneuvering in Brazil’s scandal-ridden government. Leyser has been in the sports ministry since 2003 and has been heavily involved in the Olympic planning. He will be picking a new team to support him in the run up to the Games.
“There is a perception that the Brazilian people have not yet awoken to the arrival of the Games,” he told Folha de Sao Paulo. “We are working hard to change this. We need to sound the alarm for people to remember this event and go to buy tickets.”
So far only half of Olympics tickets have been sold and just twenty percent of Paralympic tickets. The Brazilian culture of not committing to an event until the last minute has been blamed for the low take-up, as well as a difficult political and economic situation in the country and the Zika virus health scare.
One of the reasons the 2012 London Olympics was deemed so successful was the large number of tickets sold and the many spectators at each competition, particularly at the disabled sports events. There is a concern that some of the Brazilian public do not have much interest in, or knowledge of, the Paralympic Games.
In response, Paralympic organizers are rolling out educational and marketing materials to promote disabled sports. Tickets to Paralympic events may also be handed out to schoolchildren as they were when Rio hosted the Pan American and Parapan American Games in 2007.