With just three years until Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) today co-hosted a “3 Years to Go to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games” countdown event to celebrate this special milestone. The event was held in conjunction with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government at the Urban Dock LaLaport in Tokyo's Toyosu district, overlooking Tokyo Bay.
First of all, check out these videos of the various events held to mark the occasion!
Recording the event
The “3 Years to Go to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games” event was held in two separate parts, with eight Paralympians taking to the stage to participate in the opening ceremony in the first part of the event. Football 5-a-side player Kento Kato gave a demonstration of his sport on stage. Before the demonstration, Kato explained, “the players are unable to see the ball, and must rely solely on the noise of the ball, the voices of the other players and official callers, and their own instincts. The game is played by players both with and without a visual impairment, but those without a visual impairment must wear an eye mask to make the game fair. The interesting aspects of the sport include the players calling to each other, and the attacking and defensive plays.”
During the demonstration, Kato was able to pinpoint the position of the ball with the help of the noise made by the ball and calls from his team-mates, and scored a superb goal that was greeted with a huge round of applause from the spectators. A special area was set up at the venue for event visitors to try out Football 5-a-side for themselves. Parents taking part put on eye masks and children called out the position of the goal and vocally guided the players. Everybody taking part appeared to have great fun and gained a deeper appreciation for the skills of the Para athletes.
In the second part of the event, all eight Paralympians who took to the stage in part 1 participated in a talk session. Each athlete discussed the attractions of his/her particular sport as well as providing some fascinating insights into their daily lives. This was followed by a quiz in which spectators were also able to take part. Three spectators of varying ages were invited on to the stage, and were partnered with Para-badminton player Osamu Nagashima, Para-taekwondo player Chikara Ito, and long-jumper Hajimu Ashida. The pairs had to guess the answers that their partners would give to a particular question. 21-year-old contestant Miku Kusawake who was invited on to the stage from among the many visitors said, “I didn't know a thing about the Paralympic Games before, but thanks to today's event, I've been able to find out abut many aspects of the Paralympics. I'm sure the next three years will pass by in a flash, so I hope all the athletes keep trying their best, and that we all give the athletes our utmost support at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.”
The final challenge was to see how many times Para-powerlifter Hiroshi Miura could bench press a 100kg barbell. The spectators joined in the challenge by cheering on Miura and counting how many he was able to bench press the barbell, and Miura responded by bench pressing the weight 12 times. The spectators were amazed at the performance and appeared to be truly captivated by the various attractions of the Paralympics.
Event visitors and Paralympians join together to chant “3 Years to Go!”
Finally, the event's MC Shoei shouted out “the 3 years to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics countdown event,” to which the spectators in one voice replied “3 years to go to Tokyo 2020!” The event closed with all visitors having raised their expectation levels for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Junichi Kawai - member of the Tokyo 2020 Athletes' Commission, Paralympic swimmer who won a total of 21 medals at the Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games
Aki Taguchi - member of the Tokyo 2020 Athletes' Commission, a Paralympian who took part in the Paralympic shooting events in the Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Paralympic Games
Hajimu Ashida - winner of a bronze medal in the 4x100 relay at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games
Chikara Ito - Para-taekwondo player
Kento Kato - Football 5-a-side player
Keiichi Kimura - Paralympic swimming medallist at the Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games
Osamu Nagashima - Para-badminton player
Hiroshi Miura - Para-powerlifter who competed at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games