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Japan takes steps to promote para sports in a big way ahead of 2020 Paralympics

With the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics two years away, Japan is fully focused on making the games as big a success as possible. A waterfront ceremony was held this week to mark two years before the event kicks off. The event was held at Kotu Ward where many of the Paralympic and Olympic events will be held.

A survey was also held in the country to see what should be done to create greater interest in the Paralympics. Many Japanese para athletes who were part of the poll felt there is a need to look at making disabled sports more attractive ahead of the big event.

The survey was done on 77 para athletes from 10 sports like archery, blind soccer and swimming. Over 65% of them gave priority to improving the attractiveness of para sports over everything else.

On the positive side, nearly 90% also felt that the environment surrounding para sports has improved, evident in the greater media exposure and sponsors for events.

Some of the suggestions made for making para sports more attractive were building awareness through events where people experience such sports and including para sports in the school syllabus.

Many para sportspersons also raised the need to be treated equally. Like powerlifter Nao Nagasawa, who said that the Paralympics must be given the same respect as the Olympics.

Another issue that was highlighted was the need for more barrier-free facilities or facilities with universal design. Many para sportspersons are unhappy as certain venues are too far from train stations and taxis are not wheelchair-friendly.

The Japanese government is even considering the idea of introducing daylight saving time as a way to avoid the competition being held during the hottest times of the day.

The Paralympic Games will be held from 25 August to 6 September, featuring 540 events spanning 22 sports at venues mainly in Tokyo.

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