Tanni Grey-Thompson, a paralympian and broadcaster, argues that Tokyo 2020 can still be a step forward for the Paralympics.
Tokyo can still be a step forward for Paralympics is the title of an article by Tanni Grey-Thompson. The article discusses how Tokyo will be able to provide a good experience for the athletes and spectators during the Paralympic games in 2020.
|Tokyo, Japan is the location. Time in Tokyo: BST +8 Dates: 24 August-5 September|
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Baroness Grey-Thompson, who won 11 Paralympic gold medals for the United Kingdom and participated in every summer Games from 1988 to 2004, will be a member of the Radio 5 Live team in Japan and will be writing for Sport throughout the Games.
When I first arrived in Tokyo, I had no idea what to anticipate. It was a mixture of relief and relief that all of my tests came back negative, as well as relief that the Paralympic Games would go on.
There was always a nagging thought in the back of my mind that a second Games could be deemed too risky for Tokyo at some point down the road. Although I was aware that many of the athletes would be traveling to Japan, it didn’t sink me until I received my authorization.
From the highs of London 2012 to now, the Paralympic path has not been easy.
There was a genuine possibility that those Games would not take place until Rio 2016, due to Brazil’s difficult economic condition. But they turned it around, and during the closing ceremony, the then-President of the International Paralympic Committee, Sir Philip Craven, referred to the Games as “the People’s Games.”
Before the worldwide epidemic, there was a lot of buzz about the Tokyo Olympics. Three years ago, I predicted that increasing global media attention would enable the Paralympics take another major stride forward.
Despite all that has occurred, I am optimistic that these Games will catapult the movement to new heights.
While the choice to postpone appeared to take a long time (there were several levels to the decision-making process), the athletes ended up walking into even more uncharted territory.
Athletes train to compete, and no one has ever experienced a shortage of events or a training block that lasted more than a year. The dates of competition are typically known months, if not years, in advance, and although athletes are often advised to “control the controllable,” there is so much that is beyond their control.
Athletes all around the globe have had to learn to be creative when on lockdown, away from some of the most advanced training facilities, and have had to come up with novel methods of accomplishing things.
The centralised facilities have undoubtedly changed since I competed, but we always had a gym at home. Because some of the younger players didn’t have that option, online coaching sessions became the norm.
I even participated in a few of the rowing squad’s online sessions (not on a rowing machine, but with a stretchy band), and it was great to see the various sports’ friendship come together.
During the epidemic, Australian rower Erik Horrie trained in his shed.
However, lab testing and time trials are not the same as competing against other people, and with so little information available, we may be in for some shocks, particularly among the younger first-time Paralympians.
The pressure will be higher heading into these Games. It was recently revealed that paralympians in the United States would receive the same $36,000 (roughly £26,400) as their Olympic counterparts for a gold medal. That will make a significant impact in a world where many people still lack sponsorship.
The build-up to the Games has been unlike any other, and the Games itself will, undoubtedly, be unique.
Tokyo isn’t exactly decked out with Paralympic flags (nor was it for the Olympics), but that will change once the games begin. Athletes, on the other hand, will have to contend with a shortage of spectators.
Last week, there was a glimmer of optimism that some kids might be let in to watch, but that has now been quashed. Given that there has been no anticipation of crowds for months, it is doubtful that athletes will alter their minds.
I’ve competed in front of large audiences (Sydney 2000) and small crowds (Atlanta 1996), and I can tell you which I prefer.
Athletes compete for the gold medal regardless of who is watching, learning from the Olympic experience, but it is difficult to celebrate a win when there is no one to react to you.
The Olympics’ empty stands served as a striking reminder that the epidemic is still raging.
What we saw in the Olympics was fellow athletes supporting their teammates, and it will be interesting to see if this is possible at the Paralympics, given the time constraints of finishing their own event and having to leave.
Normally, athletes’ spectating is restricted, but it now sticks out since we can see who is there.
The ceremonies at the start and finish of the Games will be different as well.
While I don’t miss getting on a plane with another 200 athletes and similar kit bags, there is something wonderful about everyone arriving at the airport and being welcomed home together.
No athlete trains for years to do any of these things, let alone mix in the village, but those who have competed in previous Games will have a very different experience.
Despite the limitations, we are going to see some fantastic sports. Para-taekwondo and para-badminton, as new sports, will have a lot to live up to, while para-athletics and para-swimming, as the largest sports in terms of participants and medals, will be expected to deliver.
There will be more global coverage than ever before, and there will be some incredible moments, which is exactly what you want from a big sports event.
- paralympic games
- paralympics 2020