By Nick Butler

The visit consisted of 40 delegates from 17 different National Paralympic Committees ©Rio2016Rio 2016 Organisers have received a welcome boost following a successful visit of delegates from 17 countries for the first National Paralympic Committee Open Day to a future host city.

In recent weeks Games organisers have received a torrent of criticism from numerous figures within the Olympic Movement after problems with various aspects of preparations, including delays in construction and problems with water pollution at several venues. 

Last week IOC vice-president John Coates claimed preparations are "the worst he had experienced" in his long association with the Games, while IOC executive director Gilbert Felli has admitted construction work at the Deodoro Complex, where three Paralympic as well as seven Olympic disciplines will be held, is running two years behind schedule.

In comparison, concerns from within the Paralympic Movement have been more muted and positive feedback was given following the visit off 40 delegates from 17 NPCs spanning five continents.

On a two-day visit, visitors were updated on the Paralympic project by Rio 2016 before visits to competition sites across the city.

"We have shared a lot of information, held productive meetings and received some very useful feedback," said Rio 2016 director of National Olympic Committee and NPC services and the Olympic and Paralympic Village Mario Cilenti.

"We know the importance of dialogue and working closely together with our stakeholders and we will use these insights and discussions to further develop and fine tune our services to NPCs and their athletes.

"They will be the heart and soul of the Rio 2016 Games."

Delegates visit the Joao Havelange Stadium during the Open Day ©Rio 2016Delegates visit the Joao Havelange Stadium during the Open Day ©Rio 2016

It was revealed this week that work in the Deodoro Complex, where wheelchair fencing, equestrian and shooting will be held, is two years behind schedule with construction work not due to begin until later this year.

The delegates are confident that venues will be ready in time, it is claimed. 

Hans Safstrom, sport director at the Swedish Paralympic Committee, outlined the progress being made regarding construction since his last visit. 

"I was here in November and even since then we can see that a lot of things have happened," he said.

"For example at the Athletes' Village, the last time work had started on three buildings, and now they are finished and there is a lot more building happening.

"Last time we were told about the changes to be done at the athletics stadium, now the work has started.

"Also there's the construction work in the port area and on the roads coming through the mountains from Barra to the city.

"Things have happened and I think so far Rio is looking really good and I look forward to coming back and seeing more progress."

Kunio Nakamori, secretary general of the Japan Paralympic Committee, added that "it's been really useful to get an overview of the Games" and that he "thinks and feels that Rio 2016 will be very cheerful and happy Games".

This reaction was welcomed by Andrew Parsons, President of the Brazilian Paralympic Committee and vice-president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), who insisted that "when visiting the Paralympic Village, and when walking in the Olympic Park viewing the works, the impression that things were not moving vanishes".

But a greater test for Rio may come next week when a visit is paid by the IPC management, with chief executive Xavier Gonzalez among those due to attend.

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