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‘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.

Tadej Pogacar stuns Primoz Roglic, set to win Tour de France

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Tadej Pogacar overtook countryman Primoz Roglic and is set to become the youngest Tour de France champion since 1904, the second-youngest in history and the first Slovenian champion.

Pogacar, who turns 22 on Monday, overcame a 57-second deficit to Roglic and won Saturday’s penultimate stage, a 22-mile time trial with a finishing four-mile climb. He is 59 seconds ahead of Roglic after three weeks and 84 hours of total racing.

“Actually, my dream was just to be [in] the Tour de France,” Pogacar said. “I cannot believe it, and if you ask me in one week, one month, I will still not believe it, probably.”

Pogacar won the stage by 81 seconds, greater than the margin separating second place from eighth place after 55 minutes on the roads. Roglic was fifth.

It’s reminiscent of American Greg LeMond surpassing Frenchman Laurent Fignon in the time trial finale of the 1989 Tour.

That final margin was the closest in Tour history — eight seconds. This one would be the 11th time in Tour history that the difference is less than a minute, according to ProCyclingStats.com.

“I struggled with everything, just not enough power,” Roglic said. “I was just more and more without the power that I obviously needed. I was just really giving everything till the end.”

Australian Richie Porte will join Pogacar and Roglic on the podium after moving up from fourth place going into the time trial. Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez, who came into the day in third, dropped to sixth.

It’s the first time since 2007 that everybody on the final Tour de France podium will be there for the first time.

TOUR DE FRANCE: Standings | TV, Stream Schedule | Stage By Stage

Sunday’s finale is the traditional ceremonial ride into Paris where the overall leaders don’t attack each other.

Pogacar is riding his first Tour de France and in his second season as a professional cyclist with a World Tour team.

Last September, he finished third in the Vuelta a Espana, one of three Grand Tours, which Roglic won. At the time, Pogacar became the youngest Grand Tour podium finisher since 1974.

“I knew that I can be with the best, that I can follow,” after the Vuelta, Pogacar said, “but I never thought that I would win already this year, especially in this season that was really strange.”

UAE Team Emirates initially planned to use Pogacar to support Fabio Aru, but the Slovenian’s continued emergence changed the plan.

“I’m going [to the Tour] firstly to learn,” Pogacar said in May. “But if I have a chance to show what I can do, I will.”

Pogacar was Robin to Roglic’s Batman for most of this Tour.

Roglic wore the yellow jersey as race leader the last two weeks. heading the dominant Jumbo-Visma team. Pogacar donned the white jersey for the highest-placed rider 25 and under, though he was on a weaker team.

But when they went head-to-head on climbs, Pogacar usually stuck with Roglic, sometimes riding away from him.

When it came down to the final climb on Saturday, with no team support in what they call the race of truth, Pogacar showed who was the strongest Slovenian.

“[Roglic] was really superior through the whole Tour,” Pogacar said. “He must be devastated, but that’s bike racing, I guess. Today I beat him, and that was it.”

MORE: USA Cycling names Olympic team finalists

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2020 Tour de France standings

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2020 Tour de France standings for the yellow jersey, green jersey, white jersey and polka-dot jersey through stage 20 of 21 …

Overall (Yellow Jersey)
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) — 84:26:33
2. Primoz Roglic (SLO) — +:59
3. Richie Porte (AUS) — +3:30
4. Mikel Landa (ESP) — +5:58
5. Enric Mas (ESP) — +6:07
6. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL) — +6:47
7. Tom Dumoulin (NED) — +7:48
8. Rigberto Uran (COL) — +8:02
9. Adam Yates (GBR) — +9:25
10. Damiano Caruso (ITA) — +14:03
13. Richard Carapaz (ECU) — +24:44
15. Sepp Kuss (USA) — +42:20
17. Nairo Quintana (COL) — +1:02:46
29. Thibaut Pinot (FRA) — +1:59:33
36. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) — +2:17:41
DNF. Egan Bernal (COL)

Sprinters (Green Jersey)
1. Sam Bennett (IRL) — 319 points
2. Peter Sagan (SVK) — 264
3. Matteo Trentin (ITA) — 250
4. Bryan Coquard (FRA) — 173
5. Caleb Ewan (AUS) — 158

Climbers (Polka-Dot Jersey)
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) — 82 points
2. Richard Carapaz (ECU) — 74
3. Primoz Roglic (SLO) — 67
4. Marc Hirschi (SUI) — 62
5. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL) — 51

Young Rider (White Jersey)
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) — 84:26:33
2. Enric Mas (ESP) — +6:07
3. Valentin Madouas (FRA) — +1:42:22
4. Dani Martinez (COL) — +1:54:51
5. Lennard Kamna (GER) — +2:14:33

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