Japan’s biggest Paralympic team trained, gears up for success


Japan’s largest Paralympic delegation was launched on Tuesday, just a week before the games opened in Tokyo, with athletes and officials preparing for their best performances.

Wheelchair tennis player Shingo Kunieda, captain of the delegation, pledged “to put the maximum effort into the competition with courage and determination” at a ceremony attended by many athletes among the number. record 255 online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Wheelchair tennis player Shingo Kunieda (C) speaks during a launching ceremony for the Japanese Paralympic delegation on August 17, 2021 in Tokyo. (Kyodo)

The 464-member team is aiming for a record-breaking 20 gold medals at the Tokyo Paralympic Games, hoping to continue the success and enthusiasm created by the country’s Olympians, who have won a record-breaking 27 medals in Tokyo. gold at the recently closed sporting event.

“At the Tokyo Olympics, we saw Japanese athletes challenge with all their might and do their best, and I got chills a few times,” said Kunieda, two-time men’s singles Paralympic champion.

“I hope that many children in Japan, whether disabled or not, can feel the endless possibilities of humanity by watching para sports,” he said.

The Paralympic Games will open on August 24 after a one-year postponement, but without spectators at all venues except some students due to a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in Tokyo and the rest of the world. other parts of the country.

Japanese athletes in their teens to 60s will compete in all 22 sports, including badminton and taekwondo that will make their Paralympic debuts, until the games close on September 5.

At the ceremony at a Tokyo hotel, a limited number of athletes and officials, including Chef de Mission Junichi Kawai, sat next to each other as a precaution against the virus.

Japan’s two flag bearers, male table tennis player Koyo Iwabuchi and female triathlete Mami Tani, received the flag of the delegation.

Kawai, a visually impaired former swimmer, said athletes competing in the Paralympic Games have trained hard while dealing with the challenges posed by the pandemic.

“Now the stage has been set where you can all demonstrate your possibilities,” he said.

Photo taken on August 17, 2021, shows the Athletes ‘Village for the Tokyo Paralympic Games in the Harumi waterfront district of the capital, which officially opened on the same day before the Games’ opening ceremony on August 24. (Kyodo) == Kyodo

In a video message, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga expressed his support for them, saying: “All athletes who challenge their limits and overcome barriers will move people around the world and cheer them on.”

At the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro five years ago, Japan finished without a single gold medal, winning 10 silvers and 14 bronze. The country won its record-breaking 17 gold medals at the 1988 Seoul Games and 2004 Athens Games.

The Tokyo Paralympic Games will bring together approximately 4,400 athletes from around the world.

The Japanese capital has been under a COVID-19 state of emergency since July 12. However, she has seen a sharp rise in infections, with the figure nearly tripling from before the Olympics started on July 23.

The International Paralympic Committee and three Japanese organizing bodies took the unprecedented decision on Monday evening to ban spectators from all venues.

Exceptionally, students from local schools participating in a government-supported educational program will be permitted to attend competitions in person.

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