Athletes and citizens of Tokyo joined together in a mass demonstration event on Tuesday (25 August), to celebrate the five-year countdown until the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
A temporary basketball court was installed on Odaiba, an island in the Tokyo Bay, where the competitions will be hosted. Thousands of fans came to watch the wheelchair basketball experience at an event, which was jointly organised by Tokyo 2020 and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. One hundred spectators were selected to try the sport out for themselves with experienced wheelchair basketball athletes.
Leading athletes and para-athletes from the Japanese basketball world and other sports shared their passion with the public, including wheelchair basketball players Hiroaki Kozai, Shinji Negi, Hiroyuki Nagata, Shohei Harada and Kiyoshi Fujisawa.
“It was great fun trying out the wheelchair basketball experience with everyone,” Fujisawa said. “I really hope that everyone who came will become more interested in wheelchair basketball and help the sport to get an even larger fan base.”
In 2020, Tokyo will become the first city ever to host the Paralympic Games on two separate occasions, and there are high expectations that the Tokyo 2020 Games will contribute to the further development of the Paralympic Movement.
Tuesday’s celebration was a glimpse of how the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will be in five years’ time, fostering a welcoming environment and strengthening the “Unity in Diversity” concept among citizens.
“I hope that the 2020 Paralympics will change general perceptions of sports for persons with impairment and that the sports will continue to develop way beyond the 2020 Games,” Kozai said.
To follow Tokyo 2020’s preparations, visit their Facebook page and follow @Tokyo2020 on Twitter.