The final preparations for the Bahrain 2021 Asian Youth Para Games are underway ahead of the Opening Ceremony which will take place on 2nd December at the Bahrain International Circuit where the Formula 1 Grand Prix takes place.
750 young athletes from 30 countries have gathered in Bahrain for the Games and will compete in nine sports. At a press conference, APC President Majid Rashed said: “By providing more opportunities for our young para-athletes to compete, these games play an important role in our strategy to grow the Paralympic Movement in Asia. This is needed because even though more athletes from Asia competed at the Tokyo Paralympic Games earlier this year, Asia is still under represented with only 24% of athletes in Tokyo from our region, whereas Asia accounts for 60% of the world’s population.”
Before the start of the competition, around 500 of the athletes are being classified. This is where the athlete is assessed to establish which sport class, they are eligible for. Whilst some athletes will have a national level classification, the AYPG enables them to get an international classification.
The slogan for these Games is ‘Together. Rising. Stronger’ which encapsulates the aims for the games: Together because the athletes will make new friendships and work as a team. Rising will see them improve and emerge as athletes for the future and stronger is how they will leave Bahrain, ready to continue their careers.
As part of the press conference, Rashed highlighted the important role that the media plays in achieving the APC’s vision of an inclusive Asia. He said “The Paralympic Movement is about more than sport. It uses the power of sport to show what people with an impairment are capable of and in this way, it promotes a more inclusive society where everybody is valued. It is therefore really important that the athletes’ stories are told and all of the great performances that we will see over the next few days are captured.”
Shaikh Mohamed bin Duaij Al-Khalifa, Chairman of Supreme Committee and President of Bahrain Paralympic Committee shared how important the Games were for the Kingdom of Bahrain and how they would contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals which the Kingdom has committed to.
These will be the fourth Youth Para Games to take place in the Asian region. Nine sports will be contested; Athletics, Badminton, Boccia, Goalball, Powerlifting, Swimming, Table Tennis, Taekwondo and Wheelchair Basketball. At the previous editions of the Games, Japan topped the medal table with Iran and China in second and third place respectively.
The largest delegations at these Games are from Iran and Thailand who have each taken over 100 athletes to compete. There is also a small delegation from Bangladesh who are in Bahrain to observe the Games and have two athletes who will compete in Badminton. Bangladesh hopes that its NPC will be formally recognised at the upcoming IPC General Assembly meaning that it will be able to take part in future regional Games, starting with the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Para Games.