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Google celebrates opening of Paralympics 2016 with doodle

It's the world's largest sporting event for athletes with physical disabilities, but it's facing an unprecedented funding crisis.


The Paralympic Games 2016 opens in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, and to mark the occasion, Google has launched an animated doodle depicting the variety of sports in which disabled athletes will participate.

Beginning as a small gathering of British World War II veterans in 1948, the Paralympic Games has grown into the world's largest sporting event for athletes with physical disabilities. Since 1960, the Paralympics have taken place during the same year the Olympic Games are held, and this year's event is expected to draw 4,300 athletes from 161 nations.

Participants will compete in more than 500 events despite a range of disabilities, including impaired muscle power, impaired range of movement, vision impairment and intellectual impairment, among others. But perhaps the greatest obstacle participants will have to overcome is a significant lack of financing for the Games due to slow ticket and sponsorship sales.

"This is the worst situation that we've ever found ourselves in at Paralympic movement," International Paralympic Committee President Philip Craven told The Associated Press. "We were aware of difficulties, but we weren't aware it was as critical as this."

After Craven learned five weeks ago from the Rio Olympic organizing committee that there was no money left to run the Paralympics, the Rio city government pitched in $46.3 million and the federal government committed to another $30.7 million.

The Paralympic Games run through September 18.