TOKYO (Reuters) – The Tokyo Paralympics reopened on Tuesday after a year-long epidemic delay and continued to cast a shadow over the virus as Japan struggled with a record rise in affairs.
Like the Olympics, the event will have strict virus rules, banning almost all spectators and strict restrictions on athletes and other participants.
While a wave of domestic help emerged after months of negative elections during the Olympics, Japan is deeply concerned as the country’s approach to the Paralympics is going through a fifth wave of viruses.
More than 25,000 new cases were recorded on Thursday, and medical experts across the country have warned that hospitals are at record highs with serious cases.
This is a challenging environment for the most important sporting event for athletes with disabilities, and International Paralympic Committee Chairman Andrew Parsons has warned participants to be content.
Despite the background, IPC officials insist that access to the event would be “incredible”.
“Of course we don’t have spectators at the venues,” Parsons told AFP in an interview.
“But we are confident that we will reach more than four billion people through broadcasting.”
Local officials say the Games can be held safely, with athletes and other participants subject to the same infection rules that apply to the Olympics.
– The virus has worsened.
Rivals can enter the Paralympic Village shortly before their event and must leave within 48 hours of the end of their competition.
They will be tested daily and limited to training venues, competition venues and village transfers.
The move is aimed at preventing the Games from becoming a super-spider event – and officials say the Olympics proved the restrictions worked.
There were 552 positive Olympic-related cases reported from July 1 to Saturday, with the majority of Japanese working in the Games or working as contractors.
So far, 107 Paralympic cases have been confirmed.
But Olympic officials say the games show no evidence of infection in the rest of Japan, where the number of cases was already rising.
Yet organizers acknowledge the deteriorating environment.
“The infection situation today was as different as it was before the Olympics,” Tokyo 2020 official Hideimasa Nakamura said Friday.
“And the local medical system is in a very bad situation.”
The outbreak of the virus has caused tensions, with some localities and schools canceling planned tours of the Games events despite support for Tokyo Governor Yuriko Kwaik’s program.
– ‘Blade Jumper’ –
After a year of uncertainties over delays, the mood among Paralympians is tense.
“Now is the time to hit gold.” Paralympic silver medalist American archer Matt Stitzman tweeted using the handle “Armless Archer”.
Stitzmann is among those who will likely appear on the medal podium during the Games, which will feature 4,400 players from 160 national teams.
There are 22 games in which players participate in different categories and classes depending on the nature of their disability. Badminton and taekwondo are appearing for the first time.
Leading names include Marcus Rehm of Germany, who called himself a “blade jumper” for his feat of avoiding gravity in the long jump, which earned him three gold medals and a bronze medal.
He has insisted on participating in the Olympics, but so far without success on the fears that his artificial blade will benefit him.
Other household names include Tatiana McFadden, an American wheelchair racer who will compete in her fifth Summer Paralympics.
She also appeared at the Sochi Winter Games, where she won a silver medal in the country where she was born, as she was delighted by her adoptive American mother and Russian-born mother.
Japan is hoping to repeat the gold rush that led it to a record 58 gold Olympic medals.
Among his biggest medal hopes is Shingo Canada, the world’s number one wheelchair singles champion and considered the sport’s biggest figure.