The 38th Workshop

12 November 2021
Theme: Report from the Japanese Team of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games
Lecturer: KAWAI Junichi, chief of the Japanese delegation for the Tokyo Paralympics
SAKURAI Seiichi, deputy chief of the Japanese delegation for the Tokyo Paralympics
Moderator: FUJITA Motoaki, Professor, Nihon Fukushi University

KAWAI Junichi, chief of Japan's Tokyo Paralympic delegation, and SAKURAI Seiichi, deputy chief of Japan's delegation, spoke at the workshop. What was behind Japan's rise from zero gold medals at Rio 2016 to 13 gold medals at Tokyo? The workshop looked back at the Tokyo Games and its record of the second most medals won, and identified challenges for Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028. FUJITA Motoaki, Professor at Nihon Fukushi University, was the moderator for a discussion which included the current situation and challenges in Para-sports in Japan.

■KAWAI Junichi, chief of Japan's Tokyo Paralympic delegation
Report from the Japanese Delegation for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games: "Go Beyond, Together. Towards Creating a Legacy"
At the Tokyo Games, Japan's Paralympic team was able to take advantage of the home event and achieve the second-best result in its record. Compared to the Rio Games, the team was characterized by a younger average age and an increased proportion of female athletes, despite the Games being postponed for one year. Japan was the only team among 162 countries and regions to make full entry in 22 competitions. I have often said that this is a diverse team, including in age, gender, sport and disability. The Olympics and Paralympics worked together on many fronts, and the Tokyo Games have given us the opportunity to move towards a society where we can make the most of each other. However, the momentum that has been generated may end up being temporary if we do not act. The big question is whether we can continue this momentum.

■SAKURAI Seiichi, deputy chief of the Japanese delegation for the Tokyo Paralympics
Report on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Results: How to Sustain the Success of the Games
The reason behind Japan's leap forward in gaining 13 gold medals (11th in the rankings) at the Tokyo Games, was the self-examination that followed the result of zero gold medals gained at the Rio Games. At the Rio Games, I went to see the swimming sub pool, and was shocked to see athletes from strong teams training at the same level as the Olympics, repeatedly throwing medicine balls. With the opening of NTC (National Training Center) East in September 2019 acting as a tail wind, each sports federation took measures to make up for what was lacking, such as basic physical training for the athletes, and this had a large effect. In order to sustain the success of the Tokyo Games in Paris, it is necessary to analyse the gap between the predicted number of gold medals and the actual number of gold medals gained, to develop the foundation to produce superstars in medal-rich events, and to train female athletes with severe disabilities with even greater emphasis than at the Tokyo Games. In addition, it is important to develop the infrastructure of sports federations so that they can work together with experts in fundraising and planning, and not just with volunteers, to set and analyse firm targets and take strategic measures such as improving the training environment.

■FUJITA Motoaki, Professor of Nihon Fukushi University
It would be good to have an indicator of the success of the Paralympics that includes more than the number of medals won. I hope that the JPC and sports federations will consider the impact of changes in society as they work to strengthen athletes . In addition, there was a lot of TV coverage this time, and the athletes' own words were also covered often in the media. This made it possible to convey the purpose of the Paralympics, which is different from the Olympics. The fact that the event was covered by the media means that people are now aware of the Paralympics, and this is very significant in terms of promoting Para-sports for people with disabilities. I hope that the sports federations and the JPC will take the lead in ensuring that the two wheels of strengthening and promoting Para sports will turn smoothly together.