09/06/2021 at 10:14 CEST
The Tokyo Paralympic Games, the so-called ‘Pandemic Games’, lowered their curtain with a notable success of participation but with the bitter taste of not having been able to have spectators in the stands and being surrounded by a demanding protocol of security measures that marred the biggest event sports in the world.
With a high rate of infections in Tokyo and the state of emergency decreed in several prefectures adjacent to the capital, the Paralympic Games in the Japanese city had a lot of brilliance at a sporting level but little impact on Japanese society, oblivious in its streets to what it was taking place in magnificent facilities that, on many occasions, lacked a soul.
Some 4,400 athletes from 162 countries arrived in Tokyo, a figure that was not the highest in the history of the Games, since London 2012 still holds the record with 164.
Paraguay, Bhutan, Maldives and the Caribbean islands of Grenada and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines debuted in the world’s largest sport event for people with disabilities, while twenty other countries, for various reasons, did not attend Tokyo, including North Korea. .
Those who were, although not under the flag of their country, were the Russians. Due to the two-year sanction of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which halved the four places by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the athletes and members of the Russian team used “RPC” as an acronym and left the Japanese city with 118 medals, being fourth in the medal table.
A week later than planned, and after the tribute they received at the opening ceremony, the two Afghan representatives, who arrived from Paris after being evacuated from Kabul, landed in Tokyo. The taekwondo Zakia Khudadadi she was the first Afghan woman to compete in a Paralympic Games since Athens 2004 and lost in the quarterfinals. Hossain Rasouli He finished thirteenth in the physically disabled long jump final.
The members of the refugee team also had a prominent role, which for this event went from two to six athletes. The chosen ones were three Syrians (the swimmer Ibrahim Al Hussein, the pitcher Alia issa and the canoeist Anas al khalifa), the taekwondo player from Burundi Hakizimana Parfait, the Afghan swimmer Abbas karimi and the Iranian discus thrower Shahrad Nasajpour.
As already happened in Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016, China swept the medal table, with a total of 207 metals (96 golds, 60 silvers and 51 bronzes), followed by Great Britain with 124 medals (41, 38 and 45) and the United States with 104 metals (37, 36 and 31).
A record number of women competed at these Paralympic Games in Tokyo. 40.5% of all athletes were women, which in figures is equivalent to 1,782 athletes, a slight increase compared to the 1,671 women who competed in Rio 2016 (38.6%).
“There were many times when we thought that these Games could not be held even before they were delayed for a year, and also after, but in all of those situations we always had the support of Japan’s side. They have been historic and fantastic and have served to open the minds of Japanese citizens and help the dream of many people, “said the Brazilian at the conclusion Andrew Parsons, President of the International Paralympic Committee.
The unstoppable global Paralympic movement is being helped a lot by the media and television audiences. The main channels in countries such as the United States, Australia or Great Britain have broadcast numerous live competitions and in Japan several channels have turned upside down with specific live programming every day. In addition, for the first time, the IPC decided to broadcast the highlights of the event for free to 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that could not pay for broadcasting rights.
All the television viewers of the world once again verified the hegemony of the United States in men’s chair basketball or of Brazil in football-5 for the blind, the dominance in sitting volleyball of Iran, led by Morteza Mehrzad, a 2.46 meter player, the Egyptian’s ability to reinvent Ibrahim Hamadtou, who without arms plays table tennis holding the racket with her mouth, or the young 14-year-old Japanese swimmer, Yamada Miyuki, that without arms and with mobility problems gave a show in the pool.
Also in the same Tokyo Aquatic Center the American Jessica Long, without legs since the age of 18 months due to a peroneal hemimelia, he won six medals and, with 29, surpasses his Olympic compatriot by one Michael Phelps, a true swimming legend.
Now, the relay is taken by Paris, which has shown its commitment to organize more open Games towards society and with a more inclusive character so that they reach all sectors of the citizenry in search of full equality.