International Paralympic Committee President Mr Andrew Parsons on 13 March visited the Tokyo 2020 JAPAN HOUSE at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, featuring exhibits showcasing Japanese culture and the attractions of Tokyo. He spoke afterwards about the growth in the Paralympic Movement and the high expectations for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
“I think the PyeongChang 2018 Games shows the appetite the world has for Paralympic sport,” said Parsons. “We are breaking records for the number of athletes, the number of nations, the number of sports, the number of media representatives, broadcasters and ticket sales. It is amazing to see the growth of the Movement.”
During his tour of the Tokyo 2020 JAPAN HOUSE, Mr Parsons experienced some of the futuristic exhibits, including “THE TOKYO TRAVELLERS”, featuring an advanced 3D scanning system that photographs visitors and places life-sized digital avatars of them alongside famous Tokyo landmarks.
At the end of his visit, Mr. Parsons shared his hopes for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
IPC President Mr Andrew Parsons' interview
What have been your own major observations at the PyeongChang 2018 Games?
I think the PyeongChang 2018 Games shows that the appetite the world has for Paralympic sport, how the Movement has grown a lot. My main lesson here is that we have to plan really well in advance for Tokyo 2020, Beijing 2022 because the Games will be bigger with more exposure and more global interest.
While there are obviously many differences between the winter Games and summer Games, what do you think Tokyo 2020 should learn from the PyeongChang 2018 Games?
Of course, winter and summer games are really different, but some elements are the same; how to promote the Games, broadcasting, partnership with sponsors and the media, and engagement of the society. I think Korea gave a good example of how to bring all this together. But of course Tokyo 2020, I have been following very closely the project since the bid phase. I think Tokyo 2020 is on the right path, and I have no doubt that you will see great Games in two and a half years.
Do you have any goals you would like to achieve through the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games? What do you expect from these Games?
I think these Games will be a combination of high-tech society and some very positive traditional values. One that I really love about Japan is the “Omotenashi”, the hospitality, the way you receive foreigners, you want to embrace. I really want to see the Tokyo 2020 embracing the Paralympic Movement and organizing and delivering a very exciting Games, that leave a long-lasting legacy in the Japanese society.
One of the visions of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games is to "realise an inclusive society". What do you think is really necessary in order for such a society to be realized through the hosting of the Tokyo 2020 Games?
I think the Paralympic Games provide a very good opportunity, so investment in changing some laws and making some laws, more focused on the real life of the person with an impairment, in different aspects, not only with sport but also accessibility, housing, access to the labour market, engaging the youth. If we can engage the kids, the youth of today with the values of the Paralympic Games and a different understanding of persons with impairments, certainly in the future we will have a better Japanese society when it comes to acceptance, to tolerance and to inclusion.
What do you think volunteers, spectators and others who participate in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games can expect to gain from their experience?
They can expect an unforgettable Games, a once in a lifetime experience. It changes you. It's a magical experience and it's all because of the athletes, the experience you have with the athletes, by watching them and interacting with them, so what they can expect is something that will change their lives forever.