Just one day after the arrival of the Olympic flag in the Japanese capital, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee today paid tribute to the Paralympic Movement by marking the four-year countdown to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
To celebrate the occasion, public events were held at the Keyaki No Mori School in Fuchu City in the west of Tokyo and at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Plaza. These events showcased Tokyo 2020's pledge to celebrate Unity in Diversity - one of three core concepts underpinning preparations for the Tokyo Games - by bringing children together and helping them understand the many ways people with an impairment overcome their challenges. They also helped raise awareness of Paralympic sport as a high-performance activity.
94 children at Keyaki No Mori School participated in a sitting volleyball demonstration with the Japanese National Sitting Volleyball team. Children and students heard about the Paralympic values and wrote messages of support to the Japanese National Paralympic Team, who are set to compete at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in two weeks.
The Tokyo 2020 Games aim to set new benchmarks of support for the Paralympic Games, with athletes benefitting from top-class infrastructure and facilities, many of which are already in place.
Michiyo Nishiie, a captain of the Japan Women's National Sitting Volleyball team who joined the schoolchildren during the demonstration, said It is a pleasure and an honour to be a part of this celebration today, helping to show today's children that Paralympic sport is a competitive high-performance activity. I'm convinced that the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will create a new generation of sporting heroes from Japan and all over the world, and will make a significant contribution to international Paralympic awareness.
In the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Plaza, around 150 people, including local children, re-arranged giant emblems of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to transform them into Tokyo 2020 Paralympic emblems. Tokyo's Olympic and Paralympic emblems have been purposely designed with the same number of rectangular shapes, smbolising that Tokyo 2020 considers the two Games to be of equal importance. Japanese Olympian Kyoko Iwasaki (swimming), and Japanese Paralympians Mami Tani (athletics) and Monika Seryu (canoeing) participated in the event, together with Asao Tokolo, designer of the Tokyo 2020 emblems.
Hiroshi Sato, Tokyo 2020 Vice Director General, commented: Diversity and inclusion are at the very heart of our vision for Tokyo 2020 and one of the major legacies we are aiming for. I am really excited to have joined today's event, and we look forward to regularly staging similar awareness-raising activities in the run-up to the Tokyo 2020 Games.