“If this enthusiasm for the Games at all levels can be sustained until 2020 then I am certain that Tokyo will deliver the best Paralympic Games we have ever seen."
The International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven has completed a week-long visit to Tokyo as preparations for the 2020 Paralympic Games in the city continue apace.
Sir Philip was in Tokyo to speak at the World Forum on Sport and Culture on Thursday 20 October, an event that brought together 2,000 international leaders and future leaders from the arts, culture, business, government, academia, civil society and sport.
During his keynote address, Sir Philip spoke about the history of the Paralympic Movement and how, in just over 50 years, the Paralympic Games have developed in to the world’s number one sporting event for driving social inclusion.
“I’d like to talk about the developing philosophy of how the Paralympic Games can help improve society, move society forward and ensure that society is inclusive for everyone,” said Sir Philip, who also spoke about how the Paralympic Movement had benefitted greatly from its close partnership with the IOC.
He cited how, thanks to improved athletic performances and greater global media coverage, the London 2012 Paralympics had led to seismic shifts in attitudes towards people with an impairment. In discussing September’s Paralympics in Rio, he said they had become the “People’s Games” with 2.15 million spectators attending and billions more watching on TV around the world in over 150 countries.
Looking ahead to Tokyo 2020, the IPC President said he had so far been greatly impressed by the enthusiasm of the Organising Committee, Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG), central government, the business community, media and broadcasters. He expressed a wish that Tokyo 2020 would continue the progress that the Paralympic Movement has made in recent years, and highlighted that Tokyo could take the Paralympic Games to the next level, exceeding what had been achieved in London four years’ ago.
Other keynote speakers at the World Forum on Sport and Culture included IOC President Thomas Bach, Tokyo 2020 President Yoshirō Mori and World Rugby President Bill Beaumont.
Throughout the week, Sir Philip met with a number of key people who will be instrumental in the organisation of the Tokyo Games. This included Hirokazu Matsuno, the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and Tamayo Marukawa, Minister in charge of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and Tokyo’s Governor Koike. Having recently attended the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Governor Koike said she was so impressed by boccia athletes that she had set up a team within TMG and challenged the IPC President to a match next time he is in the city.
Sir Philip and Lady Craven also met Japan’s Emporor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace.
“I leave Tokyo with a hugely positive feeling that the Paralympic Games here will be a tremendous success,” said Sir Philip. “You would think that with the current awareness and excitement levels that the Games were taking place here next year and not in four years’ time.
“If this enthusiasm for the Games at all levels can be sustained until 2020 then I am certain that Tokyo will deliver the best Paralympic Games we have ever seen. The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics can go a long way to the IPC fulfilling its vision to inspire and excite the entire world.”