BRAZIL – There could be quite a few empty seats at the Olympic Games in Rio this summer.
With just half of tickets sold and only four months before kickoff, Brazil’s new minister of sports, Richardo Leyser, is looking into ways to boost ticket sales.
He told Brazilian newspaper Folha that the Brazilian government may purchase tickets that will be distributed to public schools. He said public officials must also work to boost worldwide confidence in Rio’s ability to host the games and ensure travelers’ safety.
They’ll have to work to ease fears over more than one issue.
The country is in the midst of a political upheaval and massive protests, and lawmakers are currently considering a request to impeach President Dilma Rousseff.
Leyser was tapped to replace Brazil’s former sports minister, who resigned just days ago.
The country’s economy is also collapsing, suffering the worst recession in 25 years.
It’s also unclear whether construction of the Olympic facilities will be finished as organizers have faced steep funding constraints — the budget was slashed by $500 million in January.
And there’s concern that Brazil won’t be able to attract tourists to the games over fears about high crime rates and terrorism. Brazil plans to use twice as many security agents as were used during the games in London in 2012.
Athletes and health experts have raised concerns about the mosquito-borne Zika virus and have lobbied for the games to be postponed. Brazilian officials have opposed the idea.