Sunday Story
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics
Writer: Devika Soni

The world recently witnessed the Tokyo Olympics 2020 after a year-long delay owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. And now, Japan’s capital is in the midst of hosting the 2020 Paralympics, which started on 24 August and will end on 5 September.

Tokyo, the first city to host the Paralympics twice, has welcomed 4,400 athletes from 160 countries and territories, to compete in 22 sporting events, including new additions—badminton and taekwondo. Paralympians compete in different categories within a certain sport based on their particular impairment.

This edition features a refugee team of six Para athletes including the first female refugee Para athlete—Alia Issa.

India has sent 43 athletes to the Games who are participating in nine sporting events. Two gold medal winners of the Rio 2016 Games are back to defend their titles in Tokyo. Devendra Jhajharia will compete in men’s javelin throw and Mariyappan Thangavelu will compete in men’s high jump.

How did the Paralympic Games begin?

Back in 1944 in Great Britain, Sir Ludwig Guttman started the Stoke Mandeville Games for war veterans who had been injured in World War II.

The Stoke Mandeville Games became the Paralympic Games and were hosted in Rome, Italy, for the first time in 1960. Over 400 athletes from 23 countries participated in the Games. And since then, the Paralympics have taken place every four years.

2020 Paralympics Medals

Same as the Tokyo Olympics 2020, the Paralympic medals have been made using recycled metals from electronic appliances donated by Japanese citizens.

The medals feature a motif of a Japanese fan. It depicts the Games as a source of new wind blowing through the world. It also signifies the Games as an event that connects diverse minds and hearts.

The Paralympic medals have been made keeping in mind the athletes with visual impairments. For the first time in the history of the Games, medal designers have added a number of circular indentations, or dents, on the sides of the medals to indicate the ranking, with one indentation for a gold medal, two for silver and three for bronze. The medals’ faces also have Tokyo 2020 written in braille.

What makes the Paralympics unique?

Apart from the Paralympians and their mind-blowing performance, here are some things you won’t see in the Olympics.

  • Athletes with an impaired vision can use assistants. Known as guide runners, these helpers are attached to the Paralympians’ arms by a strap. The only condition is that the athlete must finish ahead of their guide.
  • Some visually impaired swimmers are helped by tappers. These assistants tap the athlete’s head or body to let them know that they’re approaching turns or the
    finish line.
  • Some visually impaired cyclists pair up with guides, known as pilots, who ride in front of the Paralympian.

DD Sports will be broadcasting live coverage of the Paralympics on all cable and DTH platforms everyday from 9 am for the duration of the Games.

The Times of India
Indian Express
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