The Paralympics are forcing Japan to become a more inclusive and accessible place

Japan is looking to use the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics as an opportunity to become a more inclusive and accessible society, and in 2018 game organizers have made some headway to make it a reality.

When hosting a major sporting event, people usually talk about what kind of legacy, tangible or intangible, will remain, while the success of the event is determined by factors like number of viewers or cost, as well as what kind of media coverage is generated. .

The Paralympics are no exception, but people with experience point to an aspect that makes para-sport spectacle stand out - its potential to bring societal change.

"In our view, the importance of hosting the Paralympic Games stems from the changes they bring to society. Finding ways to analyze these changes will become important in our future communications, "said Toshiro Muto, general director of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee.

Xavier Gonzalez, CEO of the International Paralympic Committee, also points out that the success of the Paralympics should not only be measured by two-week sports competitions, but should be assessed based on the kind of lasting legacy games can leave for a host city .

Source: Kyodo News

In fact, the ultimate aspiration of the Paralympic Movement was identified as "a more inclusive society for people with disabilities".

The sport for disabled athletes was widely introduced after World War II with the goal of helping large numbers of war veterans and civilians who had been injured during the war. The sport for rehab eventually evolved into sport for recreation and then into the competitive top-level sport we see today.

Japan's ties to the Paralympic Games may exist for decades, as Tokyo hosted the Paralympics at 1964. The first Paralympics held in Asia attracted about 380 athletes from 21 countries compete in nine sporting modalities.

As part of preparations for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, a "barrier-free" order has been revised in Japan, under which hotels and lodges with more than 50 rooms planned to be built or renovated are required to make at least one per of these are affordable for individuals who use wheelchairs. The order will take effect in September of 2019.

The previous standard required that hotels make only one accessible room, regardless of the total number of rooms.

"The IPC strongly applauds the Japanese government's efforts to revise the pattern of affordable guest rooms. It's a really positive step, "IPC President Andrew Parsons said in a statement.

"Improving the accessibility of rooms in hotels in Japan can be a true tangible legacy of the Tokyo Paralympic Games 2020," said Parsons, adding that the measure will benefit not only the games, but the aging of the country's population and boost tourism for generations . come over.

The government also intends to push existing accommodation facilities to reform their rooms according to the new standard.

"Hotels really should take advantage of the support they are being offered," Gonzalez said after a two-day review in Tokyo in October referring to central government and Tokyo Metropolitan Government subsidy programs.

Toshio Muto. Source: Kyodo News

Another major issue raised by the IPC after the review of the project was the accessibility of transportation, with the committee saying that it would be difficult to move large numbers of wheelchair-bound athletes across town.

This could cause a logistical problem, as about 1.800 disabled athletes should attend the games, said the IPC.

According to data from the Ministries of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism released in December, the index of accessible wagons increased 3,5 percentage points over the previous year, to 71,2% at the end of March of 2018 and the proportion between vacancies the buses increased 3,0 points to 56,4%.

While the CPI was satisfied with the overall progress made, he stressed that the good work should continue.

"The organization of the Paralympic Games in Tokyo has raised an important issue in this country that needs to be resolved. The games are acting as a catalyst for change and all the benefits will be felt after the games, making Tokyo and Japan more inclusive for all. " Gonzalez said.

Source: Kyodo News

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