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  • PyeongChang Could Kickstart Asian Paralympic Growth


    03/20/18

    (ATR) Asian investment in Paralympic sport is growing “little by little” says Yasushi Yamawaki, as the first of three Asian Olympics and Paralympics wraps up.

    Yasushi Yamawaki (ATR)
    Yamawaki holds a number of positions in the Olympic and Paralympic world. He is President of the Japanese Paralympic Committee, Vice President for Tokyo 2020, and is an International Paralympic Committee Governing Board member. He spoke with Around the Rings on the eve of the PyeongChang 2018 finale, about the growth of Paralympic sports after the Games, and the aims Tokyo 2020 has.

    PyeongChang was the first of three Olympics and Paralympics in Asia, with Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 to follow. The Games could return to the continent as soon as 2026 if Sapporo is successful in its Winter Games bid. The IOC has touted the triumvirate of events as having the potential to grow the Asian sports movement and encourage cross-collaboration between all three countries.

    Tokyo 2020 will be the largest of the three events, with the Japanese capital becoming the first city to ever host two Summer Paralympic Games.

    Yamawaki said it was encouraging that nine Asian countries competed at the 2018 Paralympics, including North Korea and Tajikistan, which made Winter Paralympic debuts. Still, the goal should be to make sure that number increases regionally in Beijing.

    “Some Asian countries don’t have enough structure for Paralympic sports especially winter sports,” Yamawaki said to ATR. “This is a great opportunity [for Asia to] hold the Games to build up people’s excitement. We intend to support establishing a base with National Paralympic sports associations or National Paralympic Committees.”

    To take the lead Yamawaki said that Tokyo 2020 organizers want to “raise Japanese public awareness about people with [impairments]”. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has signalled its intent to release more funds so that the city is better equipped to host the Paralympics. Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike even attended the 2018 Paralympics Closing Ceremony.

    Expectations from the IPC for the Tokyo Paralympics are “high quality and innovative games that we have never seen,” Yamawaki says. The goal of the organizing committee will be to go from engaging an informed Japanese public to making sure the seats are filled for cheering on athletes during the Games.

    “Tokyo 2020 is a golden opportunity to change Japanese people’s mindset to the people with an impairment and transform our society toward more inclusive one."

    Written by Aaron Bauer, with interviews conducted by Hironori Hashimoto in PyeongChang

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