As the one year to go to the Tokyo2020 Paralympic Games milestone was reached, Asian Paralympic Committee President Majid Rashed expressed his hopes that the Games will leave a legacy that will be felt throughout the whole region.
Speaking on his arrival in China for the Chinese National Games for People with Disabilities, Rashed said:
“This is the first time in over a decade that the summer Paralympic Games have been held in our region. Since Beijing 2008, the Paralympic Movement has grown exponentially and has become the third largest sporting event in the world which now attracts global TV audiences in excess of 4 billion.
“60% of the world live in Asia and therefore we have the world’s largest population of persons with disabilities. However, to date Asia has been underrepresented at the Paralympic Games.
“At the Asian Paralympic Committee, we are focussed on changing this. For example, our Asian Para Games are an important stepping stone for many athletes on their way to the Paralympic Games and last year in Jakarta we had more nations and more athletes than ever competing and importantly breaking many regional and world records.
“Furthermore, with the IPC, the Agitos Foundation and the Japan Sports Council, we have been working hard on programmes to build capacity, targeting NPCs, sports and groups that need support to grow. So, we all hope that at Tokyo 2020 we will see more Asian countries competing, with bigger teams and more female athletes.
“Perhaps the biggest legacy from the Games in our region however will be the change in attitudes towards persons with disabilities that will follow them. This of course will be felt most strongly in Japan where lots of people will buy tickets and have ‘life changing experiences’ as our IPC President has said this week. But outside of Japan, I hope that the growing TV audiences across Asia will be similarly captivated and will eagerly follow some of the Asia stars who will shine at the Games.
“With one year to go, Asia is ready to use these Games as a catalyst for growth of the Movement across the whole region.”
The Tokyo 2020 Games will be the second Paralympic Games in a row taking place in Asia after the PyeongChang 2018 and before the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics.
They are set to be the biggest to-date with 22 sports and 540 events contested by a record 4,400 athletes from 160 nations.
At the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, China (CHN) topped the medal table while Iran (15th place), Uzbekistan (16th) and Korea (19th) made it to the top 20. Vietnam (VIE) won their first ever medal at a Paralympic Games and Kazakhstan (KAZ), Malaysia (MAS) and Uzbekistan (UZB) won their first Gold medals.