Brazil vows to go beyond London

Brazil vows to go beyond London

LONDON - Agence France-Presse
Brazil vows to go beyond London

British fans watch their team play Germany in a wheelchair basketball game. EPA photo

Rio de Janeiro will go one step further than London when the Paralympic Games go to the Brazilian city in 2016, the head of the country’s Paralympic committee said on Sept. 6.

“When we give back the flag to the International Paralympic Committee at the closing ceremony of the Rio Games, we will do so to a Paralympic movement that will be stronger than before,” Andrew Parsons told a news conference in London.

This year’s Games have been billed as the biggest and most high-profile since they were first held in Rome in 1960, with some 2.7 million tickets sold and athletes competing in packed venues in the British capital.

Parsons said that the success of the current Games was “no surprise” but he pledged: “We are very confident that we can raise the bar even higher than London.”

Investment in disabled sport in Brazil has more than doubled from about 77 million reals ($38 million) in 2005-2008 to some 165 million reals in 2009-2012, 98 percent of which was public sector funding, he added.

That has translated into success in London, with Brazilian athletes among the major stars of the Games, which opened on Aug. 29 and closes on Sunday. They include swimmer Daniel Dias, who has so far won four gold medals, and particularly sprinter Alan Oliveira, who sensationally beat South African star Oscar Pistorius to win gold in the T44 200m last Sunday.

The nation’s footballers have again made the five-a-side final and are looking to defend their unbeaten record since the sport was introduced to the Paralympics in 2004.

Parsons said Paralympians would play a major role in promoting disabled sport in Brazil as well as transforming perceptions about and access for people with disabilities across the country.

“We’re in a country where we still have a long way to go in terms of social inclusion for people with disability,” he told reporters.