Tokyo 2020 Celebrates One Year to Go to the Opening of the Paralympic Games

TOP: (From left to right) Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo; Mitsunori Torihara, Chairman of the Board, Japanese Para-Sports Association, Japanese Paralympic Committee; Markus Rehm, Athletics Long Jump; Yoshihide Suga, Chief Cabinet Secretary; Yoshiro Mori, Tokyo 2020 President
BOTTOM: (From left to right), Shingo Kunieda, Wheelchair Tennis; Duane Kale, Vice President, International Paralympic Committee; Yui Kamiji, Wheelchair Tennis

Tokyo 2020 marked the occasion with a jam-packed weekend of events across Tokyo before delivering a ceremony at NHK Hall on Sunday 25 August.

Here are the highlights from the weekend.

Countdown event

The event at Yoyogi Park in Tokyo's Shibuya ward featured athlete exhibitions, sports experience events and booths for the whole family to enjoy.

Visitors who came along tried their hand at two of the 22 Paralympic Games sports: wheelchair basketball and boccia. The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Torch was also on display with the public lining up for a chance to take a photo with the cherry blossom coloured torch.

German long jumper and two-time Paralympic gold medallist, Markus Rehm attempted to break his own T64 World Record of 8.48m at the event and on his third attempt the 31-year-old was able to leap 8.50m.

Three-time Paralympic champion Markus Rehm during his unofficial record-breaking jump

“I was able to jump so far today because of your support, so I hope you all will come to the Paralympic Games next year because it's going to be amazing, incredible performances,” Rehm said.

While the record is not official, it puts the Rio 2016 Paralympic gold medallist in good stead one year out from the opening of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Rehm's Rio 2016 teammate and gold medallist in the 4x100m David Behre was also running at the event.

Behre running at the One Year to Go event at Yoyogi Park

Japan's Shingo Kunieda, who won back-to-back gold at Beijing 2008 and London 2012, and Rio 2016 bronze medalist Yui Kamiji also showed why they are two of the world's best wheelchair tennis players.

“One Year to Go” Ceremony

The “One Year to Go” ceremony for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games took place at NHK Hall with delegates, embassy officials, athletes and members of the public in attendance.

On 25 August 2020, Tokyo will create history when they become the first city to host two Paralympic Summer Games after holding the second-ever edition of the Games back in 1964.

“Next year's Games will be the first time in history that the same city has hosted the summer Paralympics twice,” Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori said.

“Precisely because Tokyo will be hosting for the second time, we have held to an important principle, and that is to expend all our power – equal to the Olympic Games – in making the Paralympic Games a great success.”

During the ceremony, the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games released a short animation video of Paralympic mascot Someity showing each of the 22 sport to be featured at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in 365 days.

Vice President of the International Paralympic Committee Duane Kale believes the Paralympics could have a lasting impact on Tokyo and Japanese society with government officials pursuing greater accessibility and inclusion.

IPC Vice President Duane Kale gives his speech at the “One Year to Go” ceremony

“All the ingredients for outstanding Paralympics are coming together in Tokyo – the prospect of superb sport, stunning venues, billions of global TV viewers and millions of spectators,” Kale said.

“This is why I am so confident that Tokyo 2020 will surpass the success of London 2012 and have more impact on transforming society than any previous Paralympics.”

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic medals

The design of the new Paralympic medals was officially unveiled during the “One Year to Go” ceremony.

Just like the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 medals, the Paralympic Games medals have also been manufactured from recycled metals from mobile phones and small electronical devices donated by the public.

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games medals are unveiled for the first time

The new design is centred around a traditional Japanese fan with the kaname, or pivot point, holding all parts of the fan together to represent Para athletes bringing people together regardless of nationality or ethnicity.

Braille letters will also spell out “Tokyo 2020” on the medals' face, while for the first time in Paralympic history, a series of circular indentations have been made on the side of the medals – one for gold, two for silver, three for bronze – to make the medal easy to distinguish for those with visual impairments.

Unveiling Paralympic torchbearer uniform

During the ceremony the torchbearer uniforms to be worn by participants in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Torch Relay were also unveiled.

Based on the Torch Relay's concept “Share Your Light” while incorporating the core Tokyo 2020 design, the uniforms demonstrate the new partnerships between humans, and between humans and society.

During the Torch Relay, flames will be lit separately across each of Japan's 47 prefectures as well as in Stoke Mandeville, the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement.

Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay Official Ambassadors Satomi Ishihara and Sandwich Man and designer and Japanese athlete Aki Taguchi

The flames will then be merged into single one in Tokyo before the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

“The idea behind this design is that the flames congregating from all over Japan are expressed with the traditional ichimatsu chequered pattern, which has traditionally been regarded as a symbol of good fortune in Japan,” Uniform Design Director Daisuke Obana said.

Let's 55 Go! Go!

On Saturday 24 August, thousands of visitors to Sumida City Gymnasium were able to be part of a special “One Year to Go” Let's 55 event. Families enjoyed Japanese and international Para athletes showcasing their skills in one of the 15 Paralympic sports including boccia, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.

The public also were able to try their hand at several sports while Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games mascot Someity also made an appearance at the event.

The Let's 55 project allows the public to be an athlete for the day as they get to experience the 55 sports at the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. The programme also gives people a chance to meet Olympians and Paralympics who share their passion for the sport.