While media were able to gain early access to the venues at previous Paralympic Games in Sochi and London, the Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Rio 2016 has effectively locked out journalists and others who are not sportspeople from previewing venues and observing sportspeople in training at the Paralympic venues three and four days out from the start of the 2016 Summer Paralympics.
When journalists have inquired about access to the arenas to try to observe sportspeople, to check out the facilities, to see the press center or otherwise do activities that they have been able to do at that time at previous Paralympic Games, people under direction of the Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Rio 2016 have told them to speak to the Olympic Broadcasting Service and to complain to the International Paralympic Committee.
For journalists, complaints to the International Paralympic Committee go nowhere. Access to the venues is not their responsibility. That is the role of the Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Rio 2016, who following massive funding shortages as a result of the Olympic Games had to cut down on many of the services provided to the media and the International Paralympic Committee. Access to venues is the responsibility of the Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Rio 2016, and the organizers are passing blame on the International Paralympic Committee.
The issue of being able to access the facilities period is another one of the major hurdles for media trying to cover the Paralympics. Despite the IPC having announced an increase in ticket sales at 1.5 million, journalists in Rio remain deeply skeptical of the number after earlier announcements about the massive short fall in ticket sales. They saw concentrated efforts across social media by members of the Paralympic movement to buy tickets, even if they weren’t going to use them, to try to assist members of the Paralympic community to be able to attend the Rio Games. That was because the previous shortfall in sales was so bad that the IPC and the Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Rio 2016 could not deliver on time promised funding for national delegations to compete in Rio. Several of these teams will not see funds promised before the Games until after, and those funds will be less than initially promised.
While that is going on behind the scenes, journalists are also having to contended with massively reduced services. The Main Press Center has no real staff and does not soft open until today. The transport network is non-functional to such a degree that most journalists who would have been easily able to access their hotels at previous Games using the transport network or public transport are using over priced taxis or walking in heat, on roads that are poorly signed and not wheelchair accessible. The communication from the organizers inside the Main Press Center has been minimal, with most journalists having to talk amongst themselves, with the IPC and with their NPCs to be able to function to do basic things.
The transport situation and facility access is such a concern to some journalists that some sports, critically including sailing and 7-a-side football who may be on the Paralympic program for the final time in Rio, may have their media coverage reduced. The inaccessibility of the venues, both from a perspective of ability to get there and services on offer when there, make the prospective of trying to cover them daunting. In some cases, journalists have indicated this may not be worth the effort for stories that may be of marginal interest. This bodes poorly for both sailing and 7-a-side football, who need the attention if they want their sports to remain visible following their removal from the program after Rio. Media attention is one of the variables the IPC uses to assess whether or not a sport should be included on the program.