1. ITV Report

Thousands of Rio children to watch Paralympics thanks to campaign to fill empty seats

Thousands of disadvantaged children will get a ringside view. Credit: PA

Thousands of disadvantaged Brazilian children will be given a ringside view of the Paralympics after a social media campaign to help fill empty seats reached its fundraising target today.

10,000 kids from Rio will get free tickets thanks to the #filltheseats campaign started by former London 2012 marketing chief Greg Nugent.

He told ITV News the response shows "the world loves the Paralympics" as the campaign reached its target just days after the Games opened.

It was backed by scores of paralympic stars as well we celebrities ranging from Coldplay and Prince Harry - who made a personal donation.

Some children got tickets to the opening ceremony Credit: Reuters

Mr Nugent said he hoped that those receiving tickets would be inspired to aim higher by the spectacle.

“These are kids that would definitely never had gone to the games if it were not the generosity of the world," he said.

"First and foremost I hope they love the sport, but more than that I hope that they leave with a different view of what they can achieve."

He said that many athletes would also benefit from the atmosphere that the young people would bring, adding that many had been in contact to express their support for the effort.

"All of them think that this sends a signal that the world loves the paralympic games - which I think is important because it does."

Star attraction: Dame Sarah Storey after her record gold in Rio Credit: PA

The campaign was born after it emerged that just 12% of seats to the Paralympics had been sold in the weeks before its opening.

This left athletes facing the prospect of performing in under-filled stadiums while many poverty-stricken families in the area could not afford tickets.

Partners in Rio have already been sending a few hundred children at a time to events - including the opening ceremony - as they test their systems and are planning to scale up to a several thousand at a time next week.

Any additional funds donated to the campaign will now go to to disability charities in Brazil.