Paralympics Ireland hoping to add more athletes to Irish team for Rio games

The games get underway on September 7th amid reported budget cuts

Paralympics Ireland hoping to add more athletes to Irish team for Rio games

Liam Harbison, CEO of Paralympics Ireland ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

The head of Paralympics Ireland says they are hoping to add more athletes to their team over the coming days.

The first Irish athletes are due to arrive in Brazil this week, ahead of the games which get underway on September 7th.

There has been plenty of controversy in the lead-up to the Paralympics, which have reportedly been subject to significant budget cuts.

Yesterday, the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) confirmed the International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) decision to ban the whole Russian Paralympic team from Rio 2016.

The IPC suspended Russia following the publication of the McLaren report.

The report revealed details of suspected systematic doping in Russia, which investigators claimed was supported by Russian government officials.

Liam Harbison, CEO of Paralympics Ireland, told Newstalk Breakfast the situation for the Russian team is "not a cause for celebration."

He explained: "I'm sure within that 267 [athletes] there's a significant number of athletes who are clean and adopt an approach to clean sport."

He added that the Irish anti-doping process is "very robust", with athletes undergoing regular testing both in competition and out of competition.

Discussing the upcoming games, Liam said there could be more Irish athletes travelling to Ireland than originally anticipated.

"We've a team of 46 selected," he explained. "It looks like we'll be adding to that over the next 24-48 hours, because the IPC are in the process of redistributing the 267 slots that the Russians would have been using at the games.

"Within that team, we have ten sports represented - a number of current Paralympics Champions and World Champions, all the way down to young Nicole Turner from Laois. [She's] only 14 years of age [and] will be attending her first Paralympics games."

He said that Paralympics Ireland are "quite confident" the team will do well in the games, despite the challenges posed by the reported cutbacks.

"We really won't see the extent of [the cuts] until we're on the ground ourselves from Sunday onwards," he added.