A campaign to fill the stands at the Rio 2016 Paralympics has received major backing after raising more than $20,000 (£15,251) in a week.
Former London 2012 marketing director Greg Nugent began the #FillTheSeats campaign on 23 August to raise $15,000 in order to send 500 Brazilian youngsters to the Games.
This followed the news that just 12% of tickets for the Paralympics (7-18 September) had been sold (news, 25 August).
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the Rio 2016 Organising Committee and the Agitos Foundation — the IPC’s development arm — have today (30 August) given their full support to the initiative.
The bodies have asked that the campaign stay open so more tickets can be bought for Brazilian children and people with an impairment as a “gift from the world”.
The IPC and the organising committee have confirmed that up to 10,000 tickets can be bought by the campaign for $30 (£23) each, to include transport and food.
“The Paralympics is uniquely able to change attitudes toward disability around the world,” said Mr Nugent.
“We saw this in London and I am sure it will happen again in Brazil. But that means making sure the Paralympians compete in full stadia to help celebrate their achievements.
“Support this campaign and the world can invite thousands of Brazilian children to marvel at these amazing athletes and experience the power of Paralympic sport.”
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US Paralympians Tatyana and Hannah McFadden donated the first $1,000 to the campaign and Glastonbury 2016 headliners Coldplay have also pledged their support.
In a further move, the UK campaign to #savetheparalympics, which also aimed to help fill seats in Rio, has now backed #FillTheSeats and donated all funds it has raised to the campaign. This means that so far more than $25,000 (£19,090) has been raised for Rio.
“Our job is to organise great Paralympic Games in Rio but also to ensure all people have access to attending the Games,” said president of the Rio 2016 organising committee Carlos Nuzman. “This initiative will certainly help us achieve that aim.”
Any unspent money will be donated to legacy projects in Brazil and South America, focused on disability sport.
Tickets for the para dressage are still available through CoSport, the official ticket seller, for $12.29 (£9.38).