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Paralympians arrive in Rio

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Finland’s Minna Sinikka Leinonen at the airport waiting for accreditation. Image credit: Laura Hale

For the past several days, national delegations have been making their way to Rio ahead of the start of the Paralympic Games that get underway on Wednesday.  Teams that were in Rio yesterday included Romania, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Finland, Belarus, Cuba, Romania, Italy, Sweden, Great Britain, Japan, Croatia and New Zealand.

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Unlike the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, delegations appear to be sticking to the Paralympic Village, with few athletes and team members venturing out to the immediately surrounding areas.  Unlike those Games, local breakfast places, McDonalds, Subway, local grocery stores and other local businesses in Rio do not have sports people with relevant accreditation wandering shops and eateries.  Few appear to be walking on local streets.  There are some visible exceptions.  Belgian and New Zealand cyclists were on the streets right along the edge of the Games area.

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Sidewalk in Barra near the Main Press Center and the Olympic complex. Image credit: Laura Hale

This is likely a result two things.  The first is that teams may have been told to say in the Village and avoiding leaving it except for training and for competition.  A source told ParaSport News that this advice was given to Team GB for Rio.

The second issue is the area immediately surrounding Rio is not particularly wheelchair or vision impaired friendly.  Poorly signed, some sidewalks dead end or drop off or do not exist.  They may turn into sides of the road that are muddy puddles.  Some sidewalks are filled with piles of construction refuse.  Some ramps are closed making it impossible to easily cross streets.

Beyond this, there are other issues with the Rio.  There are reports that there is no entrance to the shooting venue for media, and OCOG volunteers are having to figure out on the fly how to get people in to these venues.  The media transportation network is very much slimmed down competed to the London Games, and services that were on offer now are still not available in Rio.

There are also many instances of piles of standing water, in and around the Paralympic venues with very little public effort on the part of Rio organizers to clear these up or indications that efforts are underway to insure mosquitoes are being killed to avoid the spread of Zika.

Laura Hale
About Laura Hale (2521 Articles)
Laura Hale is a sport journalist, specializing in Paralympic and disability sport news. Prior to helping found ParaSport-News, she spent two and a half years working as a journalist on Wikinews, a citizen journalism site. As a journalist, she has covered the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina, the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, and a number of other sporting events. She has additional experience with Paralympic sport having worked as a Wikipedian in Residence for the Australian and Spanish Paralympic Committees.

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