8 Sep 2013

Olympics 2020: what is Tokyo’s Paralympic vision?

It was sheer euphoria for Japan as Tokyo was announced as the host city for 2020 Games. But there was little in the country’s bid about its Paralympic plans, as Jordan Jarrett-Bryan reports.

The Japanese capital beat off competition to become only the fifth city to earn the right to host the games on two occasions (London, the only city to host three times).

Tokyo comfortably held off competition from the Turkish capital, Istanbul, with 60 votes to 36 in the final round, while Madrid came in third.

Emotional scenes, reminiscent of when Lord Coe and rest of the Logoc gang won the bid to host last years games, were seen in Buenos Aires, as the Japanese Olympic Committee went into hysteria when the announcement was made.

“I would like to thank everyone in the Olympic movement and we will host a wonderful Olympic Games,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

It was Japan’s argument that they had the economical and social stability to host the games that persuaded the IOC, which also featured an announcement from Princess Takamado, who for reasons of protocol rarely leaves the country. Japanese delegates were also quick to curb any fears from the IOC about radiation leaks at the devastated Fukushima plant.

Eastern shift

The win is all the more significant with an Olympic shift towards Asia. The Youth Olympics are being held in Nanjing, (China) and the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang (Republic of Seoul).

And Tokyo will undoubtedly host an exciting Olympics, associated vibrancy and culture but most importantly innovation and creation.

But what is going to be very interesting is how they handle the Paralympic Games and accommodate the international disability community. Many athletes who competed at the Beijing games were full of praise when it came to transport, accommodation and general accessibility for disabled people in 2008.

It’s hard to imagine the Japanese will fall below that standard. Japan spoke about how sport had played a key role in rebuilding the country after the 2011 tsunami and hosting the games would allow them to repay the world for its help.

Paralympic long jumper Mami Sato, whose home town was hit by the tsunami, described the power of sport to inspire. Sato, who lost her right leg to cancer at 19, described how 200 athletes visited thousands of children in areas affected by the tsunami.

Tokyo residents spell out the words ‘thank you’ at a government building after winning the Olympic bid.

Japan’s bid didn’t appear to offer any extensive plan to promote the Paralympics and encourage disability sport or awareness.

But the Japanese committee did say they recognise the success of the London 2012 Paralympic Games and plan to set up a school programme for disabled children with sporting ambitions.