(ATR) International Paralympic Committee chief Andrew Parsons says he expects Tokyo 2020 to be “the best Paralympic Games ever”.
IPC President Andrew Parsons with Japanese paralympian in PyeongChang (ATR)
His comments came as organizers issued an update on the progress of preparations for the Paralympics; Aug. 25 marks two years to go.
Games organizers insisted everything is on track, pointing to progress in nine major areas including full integration of the Paralympics as part of the Olympic project.
Tokyo 2020 said all its 56 domestic sponsors – 20 top-tier, 30 official partners and six supporters – were firmly behind the Paralympics, as never before.
With the IPC governing board approving the venue for Paralympic road cycling events in March, all 22 of the Games sport venues had been finalized, the organizing committee said. Earlier this month, following confirmation of the triathlon events, the entire Paralympic Games program covering all 540 events was finalized.
Tokyo 2020 said it plans to hold test events for sports unique to the Paralympic Games or that require technology to be tested – and for the newly added sports of badminton and taekwondo. The test event schedule will be submitted to the IPC by the end of August with the competition schedule to be announced in mid-October.
Commenting on venue preparations, Tokyo 2020 said construction of all 21 Paralympic venues was underway and “making steady progress with accessibility being incorporated at and around all venues”.
The six new venues being built are the Olympic Stadium, Ariake Arena, Sea Forest Waterway, aquatics centre, Dream Island archery field and the gymnastics centre. Construction of the Paralympic Village, International Broadcast Centre and the Main Press Centre are well underway and on target for completion in time for test events.
Tokyo 2020 also highlighted how Paralympic preparations had improved accessibility based on the Tokyo 2020 guidelines, with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and municipalities of other host cities making changes to comply with them.
At the end of August, delegations from the IPC and national Paralympic committees of about 20 nations are scheduled to visit Tokyo for the 2nd NPC open day event. They would “ensure the best possible conditions will be available for athletes and others”, Tokyo 2020 said in the update.
Tokyo 2020 also said that in conjunction with the city’s administration it was ensuring accessible routes around the Olympic hub were in place.
Japanese edition of I'mPOSSIBLE program is being used in schools (Tokyo 2020)
On Paralympic education, an IPC-approved program labeled I’mPOSSIBLE is being used by Japanese schools in a bid “to broaden the appeal of the Paralympic Games among as many children as possible through school education”.
Multi-stakeholder initiatives for improving accessibility beyond the Games are also part of preparations. The national government’s “Universal Design 2020 Action Plan” aims to create a more inclusive society, helping to improve the accessibility of accommodation facilities nationwide.
“The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is additionally making tangible and intangible efforts to make the city physically and psychologically barrier-free,” the organizing committee’s report said, referring to more streets around the Tokyo 2020 competition venues being made accessible, along with bathrooms in public parks, and more platform screen doors installed at the city’s train stations to enhance accessibility.
Finally, Tokyo 2020 said the metropolitan government was actively “providing more environments where people with impairments can enjoy sports and para-athletes can improve their competitiveness, as well as providing information about para athletes and their achievements, and details of the wide range of Paralympic and other para sports”.
The profile of the Paralympics was growing thanks to private sector companies, Tokyo 2020 added. They are said to be proactively supporting the event by using para-athletes in TV commercials and other promotional events.
Reported by Mark Bisson
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