The Paralympic Games are one of the world's most impressive sports events. The performances at Tokyo 2020 will wow you but there is more than just sport to the Paralympic Games… Here are 5 ways the Paralympics will help make Tokyo an even better city!
1. Every citizen should be able to enjoy watching and engaging in sport
A city should offer the same opportunities to all its citizens. After a day of work, you should be able to go to the gym and refresh your mind doing some fitness training or go to the stadium and cheer on your favourite team, right?
In Tokyo, all the Games' venues, facilities, infrastructure and services provided for the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be fully accessible. These venues will remain after the Games as a legacy for the people of Tokyo.
Examples include the recently-opened Musashino Forest Sport Plaza, a new permanent venue incorporating a swimming pool, a gym, a multi-use sports area and two fitness studios, all of which are fully accessible and available for use by the general public. The main arena additionally has space for wheelchairs, and the space is designed with enough height difference between the rows of seating to ensure that those in wheelchairs can see clearly, even if spectators in front of them stand up.
2. A new mecca for Para sports
Did you know that at Rio 2016, four Paralympians ran the 1,500m faster than the Olympic gold medallist?
It is real high-performance sport and you may have to see it to believe it. Hosting the Paralympic Games raises the awareness of Paralympic sports and athletes among new audiences in the host country, who are hooked almost immediately. In Japan, the percentage of the population who have watched Para sports events rose from 51% in 2014 to 71% after the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
And with 22 sports at Tokyo 2020, there's something for everyone. One last DYK to finish convincing you: Paralympic weightlifters can hoist as much as 310 kg - the equivalent of 2 sumo wrestlers!
3. A city where everyone can move freely
Much has been said and written about Tokyo's public transportation. So many train stations, so many subway lines, so many buses! With the Paralympic Games in 2020, the operators are clearing the last hurdles to make sure the city is super-easy to navigate for everyone.
Already 92.8% of stations in Tokyo have step-free access, 95.8% have universal access toilets, almost all have tactile paving to assist the visually impaired, and 91.1% of buses have step-free access. Operators are now upgrading their facilities with the aim of making Tokyo a city with one of the most accessible public transport networks in the world by 2020.
And if you need a quick ride, Toyota's got you covered. In October 2017, the Worldwide Paralympic Partner launched a new taxi vehicle named JPN Taxi, designed to provide easy access and comfort to people with a diverse range of needs. Approximately 1,000 JPN Taxis decorated in koiai, or Japanese indigo, are operating in the city as of today. The company is planning to accelerate the renewal of Japan's taxi fleets in the run-up towards the Tokyo 2020 Games.
4. Japan will be universally designed
It's not just the Host City; the 2020 Games will boost accessibility across the country from Hokkaido to Kyushu.
The national government has emulated the effort made by Tokyo and approved a “Universal Design 2020 Action Plan”, under which it will redouble efforts to promote universal design across Japan, with the aim of creating a more inclusive society.
As Sir Philip Craven, then President of the IPC, said, “[Our] aspiration is to make for a more inclusive society for people with an impairment through Para sport and in my view this new action plan will be one of the first tangible legacies of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.”
5. A new generation who doesn't see impairment as a difference
The Tokyo 2020 Games will foster a welcoming environment and raise awareness of unity in diversity among all citizens of the world.
Well in advance of the Games, a toolkit of educational and promotional resources entitled “I'mPOSSIBLE” was sent to 20,000 schools throughout Japan. Designed to engage young people in the Paralympic Movement, the programme aims to challenge and change the perceptions of how young people perceive people with an impairment.
And it invites everybody to try out Para-sports together. Because you don't have to be impaired to play wheelchair basketball, goalball or boccia!