A campaign entitled #FillTheSeats has been launched in a bid to get Brazilian children to fill the high volume of expected empty seats at next month’s Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
For every $15 (£10/13) donated as part of the initiative, hosted on the generosity.com website, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) will ask a Brazilian child to attend the Games for free.
All of the money raised through the scheme will go to the IPC’s official charity the Agitos Foundation, who have agreed to work with the Rio 2016 Organising Committee to distribute the funds.
The campaign officially got underway with donations from wheelchair racer Tatyana McFadden, a three-time Paralympic Games gold medallist and multiple world champion, and sister Hannah.
It has been shared on Twitter by the likes of British pop-rock band Coldplay and has already seen a donation of $10,000 (£7,600/€8,900) since it was set up on Tuesday (August 23).
The launch of the initiative follows disappointing ticket sales at the Rio 2016 Olympics, which came to a conclusion with the Closing Ceremony on Sunday (August 21), where vast swathes of empty seats were found at a number of venues.
It also comes amid flailing sales for the Paralympics, with the IPC revealing last week that only 12 per cent of tickets had been sold.
The IPC and Rio 2016 were given a boost on Tuesday, however, as a record 130,000 seats for the Games were snapped up.
This had followed 50,000 and 100,000 being bought the previous two days, the IPC claimed, raising the overall figure to 20 per cent.
“We need to help fill the seats,” the campaign reads.
“We do not want some of the greatest athletes in the world participating in empty stadia.
“And we do not want to send the wrong message about the importance of disability sports at this critical time for the world.
“Recent decades have seen massive advances in Paralympic sport and the attitude of the world to disability.
“We should make sure that the success of recent Games is repeated.”
Paralympic ticket sales had been a prominent concern for organisers in the build-up to the event, which runs from September 7 to 18.
The exact number sold has been a bone of contention in recent months, with figures ranging from 29 to 33 per cent being announced by Rio 2016 before this latest revision.
The subsequent drop was blamed on a readjustment in total numbers as well as Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes being unable to fulfil his pledge to buy 500,000 tickets for local people.
Tickets for Paralympic sporting events in Rio cost from R$10 (£2.34/$3.09/€2.74) to R$130 (£30/$40/€36).
This comes as cuts continue to take place ahead of the Games, with National Paralympic Committees still awaiting vital travel grants from the Organising Committee which were due on July 29.