An Olympics executive, two Paralympians and the band Coldplay have teamed up to promote an initiative to fill the seats at the upcoming Paralympic Games. And it's working: London 2012 marketer Greg Nugent has raised more than $25,000 so far to purchase tickets for 10,000 Brazilian children to sit in the stands at the games, which will run from Sept. 7-18 in Rio de Janeiro.
Nugent launched the campaign last week after learning that the Paralympics had only sold about 12 percent of the tickets available for the competition.
"We do not want some of the greatest athletes in the world participating in empty stadia," he wrote on his page on Generosity.com, a crowdfunding website. "And we do not want to send the wrong message about the importance of disability sports at this critical time for the world."
The #FilltheSeats backers think Brazilian youth are the perfect spectators. For every $30 raised, the campaign can purchase transportation, food and an event ticket for a local child or disabled person to attend the Paralympics. Team USA track and field athletes Tatyana and Hannah McFadden, Coldplay and the leaders of a similar #savetheparalympics initiative have joined in.
The #FilltheSeats fund got formal backing Tuesday from the International Paralympic Committee.
"This campaign proves the Paralympic spirit is global and the idea of Brazilian youngsters and people with an impairment going to the Paralympic Games is inspiring," Xavier Gonzalez, chief executive officer of the committee, said in a news release. "We want them to be part of history and part of Latin America’s first Paralympic Games."
During the last Paralympics, venues in London were forced to offer additional seating because so many people turned out, according to CNN Money. BBC News noted that in Beijing in 2008, organizers gave away about as many Paralympics tickets as they sold.