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Brazil Is Struggling To Fill The Stands At The Rio Olympics

Worse still, only 12% of tickets for the Paralympics have been snapped up.

Posted on April 2, 2016, at 2:01 p.m. ET

Matthew Stockman / Getty Images

Maybe it's time to pray to Christ the Redeemer.

With just over four months remaining until the cauldron is lit in Rio de Janeiro's Olympic stadium, Brazilian officials are grappling with some epically poor ticket sales.

A spokesperson for the Rio 2016 organizing committee confirmed to Agence France-Presse on Saturday that only 50% of tickets for South America's first ever Summer Olympics have been snapped up.

The figures are even worse for the Paralympics, with only 12% of seats sold.

Brazil's new acting minister of sport, Ricardo Leyser, told the Folha newspaper the government is considering buying tickets, especially to the Paralympics, that will then be distributed to local schools.

Officials are also brainstorming other ways to drum up local excitement and boost sales, said Lesyer, who only assumed the cabinet role this week amid the country's ongoing political turmoil.

"There is a perception that the Brazilian population has not yet woken up for the Games," Leyser told the newspaper. "We are going to work energetically on this because it's still not in people's heads.

"We need to sound an alert so that people remember this event and go and buy tickets."

The 2004 Athens Olympics memorably suffered from poor spectator attendance, with near-empty stands a fixture at many events.

Sean Garnsworthy / Getty Images

A lone spectator sits in the empty stands during the women's football preliminary match between USA and Australia on August 17, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games Thessaloniki, Greece.

The Rio Games are set to begin on August 5, but Brazil has been plagued by scandals and setbacks in recent months.

In addition to grappling with a recession, President Dilma Rousseff's government has been beset by allegations of corruption and mass protests demanding her resignation.

Further fears over the mosquito-borne Zika virus have forced the International Olympic Committee to work with local authorities to minimize the health dangers posed to pregnant athletes and spectators.

Pools of stagnant water will also be removed from areas near Games venues in a bid to destroy the mosquitos' breeding grounds.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.