Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Qualtrough Says Rio Paralympics Face Challenges, but Legacy Will Be Significant

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Qualtrough Says Rio Paralympics Face Challenges, but Legacy Will Be Significant

Article excerpt

Qualtrough says Paralympics to leave Rio legacy

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Canada's sports minister has a deep background in Paralympic sport as an athlete and leader.

Carla Qualtrough says athletes will be able to compete to the best of their abilities in Rio de Janeiro despite the scaling back of the Paralympics in the city.

A swimmer and former head of the Canadian Paralympic Committee, she doesn't expect competition for medals to be impaired in cash-strapped Rio.

"Make no mistake, there's been challenges," Qualtrough told The Canadian Press from Rio.

"I'm absolutely confident we're going to have world-class performances here in Rio. The events are going to be run really soundly. All the experts from around the world from the different sports are here.

"They're in their venues and making sure that the athletes' experience on the field of play is top drawer. We're going to have to be patient with everything else."

Less than three weeks after the close of the Olympic Games, the curtain rises on the Rio Paralympics with Wednesday's opening ceremonies.

Canada's 162 athletes are among the 4,300 competing in 23 sports. Canada's objective is a top-16 finish in the overall medal standings.

Before the close of the Olympics, Rio organizers said deep budget cuts meant reduced workforce and transportation and the closing of some facilities for the Paralympics.

The Associated Press reported a financial bailout from the Brazilian government helped salvage the Paralympics.

On the brighter side for Rio, organizers say there's been a jump in demand for tickets with sales reaching 1.6 million as of Tuesday.

The 2012 Paralympics in London were considered a watershed moment for athletes with disabilities competing in summer sport.

Britain being the birthplace of the Paralympics, there was no noticeable difference on the ground between the Olympics and Paralympics in organization, transportation services, television and media coverage and ticket sales.

Financial problems aside, the Paralympic movement is at a different stage in Rio than it was in London. Qualtrough, also Canada's minister for persons with disabilities, says the Paralympic legacy left in Rio will be significant. …

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