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Games in Brazil second most attended in history of Paralympics

Reporter: Lucrecia Franco 丨 CCTV.com

09-17-2016 15:54 BJT

Full coverage: 2016 Rio Paralympic Games

Before the Rio Paralympics even began, they were largely written off as a failure. Dismal ticket sales, the ongoing Russian doping scandal, and severe budget cuts all spun into a narrative that the Games were doomed. But the predictions proved wrong and the event has quietly become one of the most successful in history.

"I think this is amazing."

"It is all going very well. It's perfect."

"It's awesome. It is just wonderful."

It's been an unlikely success story. At the end of August -- just weeks before the Games began -- the organizers sold a scant 200,000 tickets. This week, ticket sales passed the two million mark. These Paralympic Games are now the second most attended in history.

"I was surprised by my country. I never thought this would happen. We went beyond our (previous) capacity. Fantastic! Fantastic! And the reception we gave the foreign athletes -- incredible! Incredible! I love my country more and more!" said Brazilian state worker Joan Batista.

Brazilians have embraced the games as their own. Many felt the Olympics excluded them, primarily because of high ticket prices-each costing 70 reais or 21 U.S. dollars. Paralympic tickets are just 10 reais, or about three U.S. dollars.

"The prices are affordable, they're accessible for everyone. Another thing is it's a new experience for Brazilians, to see the medals, attend the Paralympics, I think it's a novelty for everyone," said Brazilian spectator Pamela Neves.

Last weekend, 170,000 people visited the Barra Olympic Park. Many of them were residents of Rio, known as Cariocas.

"That's more than at any point during the Paralympics or Olympic Games. So the Cariocas (Rio residents) really did come out to support the Games," said IPC spoksman Craig Spence.

As for the competition it has been fierce. By the end of the fourth day, more than 100 world records had been broken. And China is leading the medal count by a wide margin.

One cloud has cast a shadow over this competition -- the Russian doping scandal. Russian athletes were banned from the Olympics, and then the Paralympics, too. Moscow held its own Paralympic Games last week. But Rio is the bigger stage. Some of the Russian athletes said they were sad to not be in Rio -- where the games, the glory and the fun -- are taking place without them.

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