International Paralympic Committee

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Paralympic officials give Russia one more month

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The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) gave Russia one more month to meet anti-doping mandates to have its suspension lifted to participate in March’s PyeongChang Paralympics.

The IPC was originally expected to rule on Russia’s eligibility for the PyeongChang Winter Games late this month but now will do so at a Jan. 26-28 meeting, according to a press release Wednesday.

An IPC official said there is “a very strong likelihood” that Russia will not meet reinstatement criteria in time if it does not change its “unhelpful and evasive approach.”

Russia has been banned from IPC-sanctioned competition since August 2016 due to its poor anti-doping record. That included a suspension from the Rio Games.

But Russian athletes were allowed to apply to compete in PyeongChang qualifying events as neutrals with the hope that Russia’s ban would later be lifted.

The IPC said Russia must still meet five criteria for reinstatement, down from seven in September.

A key unmet condition is a Russian response to addressing the McLaren Report, a World Anti-Doping Agency-commissioned investigation into Russian doping leading into and during the Sochi Games.

Russian officials have not publicly accepted the 2016 McLaren Report findings of widespread doping by more than 1,000 Russian athletes as fact.

The Russia Paralympic Committee (RPC) requested to remove the criteria stating that it must address the McLaren Report. That request was denied by the IPC Governing Board.

“The RPC is making headway with the IPC on three of the five remaining reinstatement criteria, however sadly, and much to our growing disappointment and frustration, there is a lack of progress regarding an official response from the Russian authorities specifically and adequately addressing the McLaren findings and evidence,” New IPC President Andrew Parsons said. “If the Russian authorities believe his findings and evidence are not credible, then suitable supporting evidence and explanations should be provided to properly rebut them. So far nothing has been forthcoming.”

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MORE: Five Paralympic storylines for PyeongChang

Paralympic leadership denied vote by IOC on 2024 host city

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The host city for the 2024 Paralympics will be selected without the Paralympic leadership having a say in whether Los Angeles or Paris is chosen.

It’s the consequence of the International Paralympic Committee electing a new president in early September — and the winner not immediately and automatically replacing outgoing leader Philip Craven as an International Olympic Committee member.

In an agreement that was extended last year , the city selected by the IOC to host the Olympics is also obliged to stage the Paralympics shortly afterward. A decision will be made next week on whether the 2028 host is also selected at the September meeting in Peru, with the IOC keen to avoid making a loser of either Paris or LA given the strength of the bids.

The IOC confirmed to The Associated Press “there will be no representative from the IPC voting in Lima” on Sept. 13.

Four candidates are in the running to replace Craven as IPC president at a vote on Sept. 8 in Abu Dhabi: Patrick Jarvis, Andrew Parsons, John Petersson and Haidi Zhang.

“Sir Phil Craven will no longer be an IOC member once his mandate within the IPC ends,” the IOC said. “It does not mean however that his successor will automatically become an IOC member. His potential candidature will have to be proposed to the IOC members election commission which is charged with preparing profiles and proposing candidates in order to achieve a diverse and balanced membership of the IOC.

“The commission submits a report to the IOC executive board which is the competent body to propose a candidature to the session. The session alone is competent to elect any IOC member.”

The IPC has been pushing to retain its vote, with Craven telling the AP that “something has to be worked out.”

Parsons, the IPC vice president vying for the top job, called it “unfortunate.”

“It is purely a timing issue,” the Brazilian added. “This is understood and cannot be avoided.”

The Paris and LA bids declined to comment on the Paralympic leadership not participating in the vote. Both cities will present their projects to IOC members next Tuesday in Lausanne, Switzerland. The full IOC membership, still including Craven, will then decide whether to ratify the board’s request to award the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games at the September meeting.

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MORE: Russia’s Paralympic ban extended as IPC eyes PyeongChang

‘Worst situation ever in Paralympic movement,’ IPC president says before Rio Games

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The Paralympics leadership hoped Rio de Janeiro would build on the success of London. Instead, it’s about limiting any damage.

When the curtain comes up for 4,300 athletes at Wednesday’s opening ceremony, almost everything will be scaled back: venues, seating, and staffing. Paralympic officials say that no sports or nations have been cut out, but the “athlete experience” could suffer.

Only a last-minute Brazilian government bailout has helped save the event from a shortfall in the local, privately funded operating budget.

“This is the worst situation that we’ve ever found ourselves in at Paralympic movement,” Philip Craven, the president of the International Paralympic Committee, told The Associated Press. “We were aware of difficulties, but we weren’t aware it was as critical as this.”

Rio organizers limped through the troubled Olympics, buffeted by empty seats, green water in swimming pools, and the absence of an Olympic “feel.” Behind the scenes there were no-show volunteers, street crime and traffic chaos.

Craven said he’s been assured there are “sufficient resources to put on a very good games.”

Here’s a look at the Sept. 7-18 Paralympics featuring athletes from 161 nations, and an added refugee team:

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FINANCING

The Rio Olympic organizing committee promised to use only private money in its 7.4 billion real ($2.3 billion) operating budget. But Craven said local organizers didn’t tell him until about 5 1/2 weeks ago that there was no money left to run the Paralympics.

They blamed it on slow ticket and sponsorship sales, and the rising cost to run the Olympics.

“That’s been a problem with the organizing committee — not knowing information,” Craven said.

To salvage the event, the Rio city government came up with 150 million reals ($46.3 million) in financing, and the federal government has guaranteed another 100 million reals ($30.7 million). This comes in the form of “sponsorships” from three state-run entities including the scandal-plagued oil company Petrobras.

A local prosecutor argued unsuccessfully that the privately-run organizing committee needed to open its books to justify the government bailout.

The influx of public money is still less than half of the $170 million that Rio organizers promised for Paralympic funding in their 2009 bid to the International Olympic Committee.

The bailout comes as Rio hospitals are understaffed, and some school classes have been suspended because teachers are staying away to protest delayed payments.

The Brazilian newspaper Estadao reported last month that the top eight executives of the Rio organizing committee were each paid an average of $25,000 per month in 2015.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach flatly denied public money was being used to patch up the local budget.

“There is no public money in the organization of these Olympic Games,” Bach said the day before the Olympics closed — and a day after the city hall financing was announced. “The budget of the organizing committee is privately financed. There is no public funding for this.”

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NO SPORTS CUT

Paralympic organizers say there have been no cuts to the sports, all will be contested as planned, and no delegations were forced to drop out.

“All the teams will be here,” Craven said.

All of Russia’s disabled athletes have been banned from the Paralympics for alleged involvement in Russia’s doping scandal. The ruling was upheld by the Swiss-basedCourt of Arbitration for Sport.

Paralympic organizers originally planned for 4,350 athletes. Paralympic spokesman Craig Spence said all of the 267 slots allotted to Russian athletes could not be filled, dropping the athlete total to 4,300.

He said athletes were “ring-fenced” from the cuts, but acknowledged they’ll still feel them.

“The service levels will be the same, but probably the athlete experience compared to previous games will suffer a little bit,” Spence said.

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TICKETS

Organizers hope to sell just over 2 million of the 2.5 million tickets available. Tickets are priced at 10 reals ($3), with some fans buying tickets as a cheap way to see the Olympic Park with no guarantee they will actually attend a sports events.

Organizers say sales have soared in the last two weeks with sales best for track and field, swimming, wheelchair basketball, five-a-side football, and seated volleyball.

Most of the events will be held in the Olympic Park in suburban Barra da Tijuca. The second Olympic cluster in Deodoro has been scaled back and will host only three sports — shooting, seven-player football and equestrian events. Wheelchair fencing has been moved from Deodoro to the Olympic Park.

Paralympic officials say if 1.8 million are sold it would be the second-best selling Paralympics after London four years ago. Beijing eight years ago drew 3.3 million, but only 1.7 million tickets were sold.

“There are not going to be empty stadiums,” Craven said. “Don’t worry about it.”

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SOME STARS

Here are some to watch .

Two visually impaired athletes — Jason Smyth of Ireland and Omara Durand of Cuba — are likely to be the fastest man and woman over 100 meters. American Tatyana McFadden is hoping to become the first track and field athlete to win seven golds at one Paralympic Games. 74-year-old Libby Kosmala of Australia is competing in her 12th Paralympics; Jonas Jacobsson, 51, of Sweden in his 10th — both in shooting. Siamand Rahman of Iran will try to become the first Paralympian to lift 300 kilos in powerlifting. Zahra Nemati, who was the flagbearer for Iran in the Rio Olympics, is the first Iranian woman to win gold in either the Olympics or Paralympics — she won gold in archery in London’s Paralympics. Brazilian swimmer Daniel Dias, who is seen as the Michael Phelps of the Paralympics, won four gold medals in Beijing and six in London, where he also set four world records. American Matt Stutzman is an armless archer who holds a world record for long-distance accuracy.