Only between 12 and 15 per cent of tickets for this year's Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro have been sold, organisers admitted here today on the eve of them launching a major publicity campaign due to try to reach their target of 50 per cent by the beginning of May.
Ticket sales for the Olympic Games are now at 47 per cent, Rio 2016 communications director Mario Andrada added following a presentation to an Executive Board meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Because a higher percentage of the most expensive class of tickets have been sold, the figure marks 74 per cent of their financial sales target, estimated at $194 million (£139 million/€178 million).
This compares with a total figure of £659 million ($1.04 billion/€822 million) raised from London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic ticket sales,
A total of 10.99 million tickets out of a total of 11.3 million available across both Games were sold.
This marked an increase on the previous record of $551 million (£347 million/€433 million) generated by Sydney in 2000.
The latest figures were disclosed by Rio 2016 six weeks after it was revealed that around half of the 4.5 mllion Olympic and just 10 per cent of three million Paralympic tickets had been brought in Brazil, leading to fears over empty venues at both Games, which could affect the atmosphere and look bad on television.
Rio 2016 are making progress at selling the remaining tickets, they told the IOC Executive Board.
Andrada claimed a batch of 500,000 fresh tickets sold out in two days and the Opening Ceremony and other showcase sessions are "technically soldout",
This means that no more tickets are available for the public and the remaining ones will be distributed among sponsors.
"The ticket [sales] have increased a lot," claimed Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman.
IOC President Thomas Bach claimed to be similarly unworried
We have no concerns at all beause this is a different culture," he said.
"Unlike in Britain or Germany, they don’t buy tickets at such an early stage.
"Given the great support in Brazil, I have no doubt that when the time comes, tickets will be bought."
Paralympic sales do remain a major concern, however, and cast a long shadow over celebrations being held tomorrow to mark six months until the Opening Ceremony on September 7.
Organisers are using the milestone to roll-out a major educational and publicity campaign across the host country.
It is feared that the slow pace of ticket sales is because much of the Brazilian population have little interest in Paralympic sport or, in some cases, do not even know it exists.
"We have a target of 50 per cent for Paralympic sales by the time the Olympic Torch arrives in Brazil [on May 3]," Andrada told insidethegames.
"It is key we make progress before then because once the Torch Relay begins all the focus will be on the Olympic Games.
"We haven't made enough progress [in the last six weeks] because we haven't done enough promotional work."
Such work was encouraged by the International Paralympic Committee during a Project Review inspection last month.
“We are happy with the progress made by the Organising Committee since our last meeting, especially in light of the measures they have taken to balance their budget," said IPC chief executive Xavier Gonzalez.
“With six months to go fast approaching, it is now time to focus on fully engaging the Rio and Brazilian public in the Paralympic Games."
The last Paralympic Games in London was considered a huge success primarily because virtually all the stadiums and arena were full.