RIO DE JANEIRO, (Xinhua) --
More than 4,400 athletes from 160 countries and
regions will compete at the Rio Paralympic Games, which
officially opened at the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday.
The figure includes
two refugees, who will participate under the International
Paralympic Athletes flag, the International Paralympic Committee
(IPC) said on Wednesday.
Of the 4,432
athletes registered for the September 7-18 Games, a record 1,621
are women - 12% more than London four years ago and more than
double the number that participated in Atlanta 20 years ago.
The overall number
of athletes in Rio eclipses the 4,302 participants that took
part in London and the 3,951 who were registered in Beijing in
participation level comes despite the late withdrawals of
Comoros and Liberia, and the absence of Russia.
IPC president Philip
Craven said organizers had overcome many obstacles, such as
budget cuts and slow early ticket sales amid Brazil’s worst
recession in decades.
“Two weeks ago I
said we faced unprecedented circumstances and since then we’ve
seen unprecedented teamwork,” Craven told a news conference.
“The feeling coming
out of the athletes village is that athletes are happy. The
thing to remember is athletes perform best when they are happy
and I only saw happy athletes in the village, and that’s all
right for me.”
Since the Olympic
Games closing ceremony on August 21, ticket sales have risen
from 300,000 to almost 1.7 million, Craven said.
Organizers are now
hoping the to overtake the 2.4 million tickets sold at the
Beijing 2008 Games.
“These are going to
be the people’s Games. You cannot come to a more passionate
country for sport, but you’ve got to engage with the hearts,”
“I think that we’ve
seen from the massive increase in the ticket sales that the
Cariocas [Rio residents] and the Brasileiros are ready for these
Games and they want more after the Olympics and they
particularly want to see the Brazilian athletes.”
“It’s always very
very important to have a highly successful national team coming
from the country where the Games are taking place.”
Craven said a record
1,500 athletes would be tested for doping during the Rio
The Games will be
broadcast to 154 countries and regions - 39 more than in London.