Five-year Countdown Event Sparks Passion in Tokyo for Paralympic Sports

In exactly five years, on Tuesday 25 August 2020, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will open!

The citizens of Tokyo today joined athletes to celebrate the '5 years to go' milestone before the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. A temporary basketball court was installed on Odaiba, an island in the Tokyo Bay set to host Games' competitions.

Over a thousand excited fans came to watch the Wheelchair Basketball experience at an event jointly organised by Tokyo 2020 and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and 100 lucky spectators even had the opportunity to try the sport out for themselves with experienced Wheelchair Basketball para-athletes.

Leading athletes and para-athletes from the Japanese basketball world and other sports shared their passion with the public, including the Wheelchair Basketball players Hiroaki Kozai, Shinji Negi, Hiroyuki Nagata, Shohei Harada and Kiyoshi Fujisawa.

After witnessing the excitement of the public taking part in the Wheelchair Basketball experience, Kiyoshi Fujisawa said, "It was great fun trying out the Wheelchair Basketball experience with everyone. I really hope that everyone who came today will become more interested in Wheelchair Basketball and help the sport to get an even larger fan base."

"I hope that the 2020 Paralympics will change general perceptions of sports for persons with an impairment and that the sports will continue to develop way beyond the 2020 Games," Hiroaki Kozai added,

In 2020, Tokyo will become the first city ever to host the Paralympic Games on two separate occasions, and there are high expectations that the Tokyo 2020 Games will contribute to the further development of the Paralympic Movement.

Today's event gave us all a glimpse of how the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will be in five years' time: fostering a welcoming environment and strengthening the 'Unity in Diversity' concept among citizens.

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Japan's representative wheelchair basketball player Hiroaki Kozai takes on Japanese pro basketball player Tomoya Nakamura in a game of 1-on-1. Ms. Motoko Obayashi tries her hand at wheelchair basketball. General participants playing wheelchair basketball.