The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games – the biggest Para sports event in the world – return to Japan 57 years after hosting Tokyo 1964. Thousands of Paralympic athletes worldwide are gearing up to compete in 539 events across 22 sports. The opening ceremony will take place Tuesday evening (24th August).
Tokyo 2020 will exceed Rio 2016 in terms of the number of National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) set to take part in the Paralympic Games. A total of 162 delegations, including the Refugee Paralympic Team and five nations making their Games debut, will compete across 22 sports.
Andrew Parsons, IPC President, “To have 162 NPCs compete in Tokyo makes me extremely proud. The last 18 months have been the most challenging yet for everyone involved in the Paralympic Movement.
Major credit needs to go to NPCs for preparing their athletes. It has been an epic and exhausting challenge for everyone involved, including the IPC management team, but one that has delivered excellent results.
“In Tokyo, in addition to the second appearance of the Refugee Paralympic Team, five NPCs will also make their Paralympic debut showing the growing breath of the Paralympic Movement. We could not be more excited and appreciative of the support of all the people that have made these amazing Games possible.”
Afghanistan’s flag will be on show at the opening ceremony as a “sign of solidarity”. The Taliban takeover of the country means the Afghan athletes were not able to make it to Japan to compete. A representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees would carry the flag instead, said Andrew Parsons, the president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
The two Paralympic athletes from Afghanistan are para-taekwondo athlete Zakia Khudadadi and discus thrower Hossain Rasouli.
Five countries – Bhutan, Grenada, Maldives, Paraguay, and St Vincent and the Grenadines – will compete for the first time in a Paralympic Games; all are beneficiaries of the IPC’s NPC Development Program.
From 24 August, Paralympian legends Daniel Dias of Brazil, USA’s Jessica Long and Mckenzie Coan look to add more swimming medals to add to their collection, whilst Germany’s Markus Rehm will attempt to defend his long jump titles as well as Iranian archer Zahra Nemati – a two-time Paralympic champion – returning to take centre stage in Tokyo.
Other Para stars on the hunt for their first gold medal include Team Great Britain’s Jordanne Whiley (wheelchair tennis) and Japan’s Sato Tomoki (Para athletics – marathon) – who won two silver medals back in Rio.
But it’s not just the experienced Paralympians to look out for. The likes of Kiara Rodriguez is hunting Ecuador’s first gold medal in T47 long jump as she makes her Paralympic debut, while 19-year-old Ambra Sabatini (who shattered the 100m T63 world record in February) will make her bow in Tokyo.
Billions of viewers around the world will tune in to watch the Paralympic Games unfold with more than 22 sports taking place from 24 August.
Shooting returns to the Paralympic program at Tokyo 2020 alongside two sports that made their debut in Rio: canoe and triathlon.
Wheelchair basketball looks set to see an exciting duel with Great Britain and Team USA – Rio 2016 bronze and gold medallists respectively – drawn against each other, whilst in wheelchair rugby, world no. 3 Japan start their campaign for their first Paralympic title against current Paralympic champions Australia.
The Paralympic Games take place from 24 August – 5 September, and you can see a full competition schedule at www.serialupdates.me/tokyo-2020-paralympics-schedule-for-2021/