A number of Asian nations have been inspired to increase the number of women participating in Para sports, following a workshop held in Tokyo from 7-8th September 2019.
The workshop was organised as part of the Sport for Tomorrow programme by the Japan Sport Council (JSC) in conjunction with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the Japanese Paralympic Committee (JPC) and the Asian Paralympic Committee (APC).
During the two-day workshop, delegates were provided with key qualification information for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games with aim of increasing the number of female athletes there and heard summaries of some of the keynote presentations from a similar workshop held for African nations during the International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG) conference in Botswana in 2018. They also discussed the challenges in developing female para-athletes and ways to overcome them before being supported to develop a National Working Plan to implement on their return to their own countries.
Whilst the percentage of athletes from Asia who are female increased from 33% in London to 36% in Rio, there is still some way to go to achieve the IPC aim of gender parity. 20 delegates from 11 National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) took part. The NPCs had been chosen because either they hadn’t sent any female athletes to Rio 2016 or, in the case of Maldives and Bhutan, are newly formed NPCs.
“Since the launch of the Sport for Tomorrow programme in 2014, the JSC has repeatedly conducted programmes to promote para sport and its values in collaboration with the IPC, AF, JPC and other related organisations. We expect this workshop to be a springboard to increase women participation in para sport at all levels in Asia and hope to see the participating NPCs sending female athletes to future major events including the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games”, said Mr Takahiro Waku, Director of Department of Information and International Relations at the JSC.
The Asian Paralympic Committee took the lead on communicating with the NPCs and encouraging its members to attend. Three APC Executive Board members took part in the workshop, Mr Masayuki Mizuno, Mr Manabu Aso and Ms Nasanbat Oyunbat along with APC CEO Mr Tarek Souei.
Chair of the APC’s Women in Sport Committee, Ms Nasanbat Oyunbat commented: “At the APC we are working hard to support the Asian NPCs’ growth and development. A key focus for us is increasing the number of female para-athletes. This workshop has been an important part of doing this. It was stimulating and productive and I think everyone has left here feeling encouraged and determined to support more girls and women to take up para-sport. This is of course a long-term project but we hope to see the beginning of the results at Tokyo 2020”.
Mr Namgyal Wangchuk from NPC Bhutan, who is the Chef de Mission for the Tokyo 2020 Games, said: “The takeaway from this workshop is very rich. This is the first time for Bhutan to attend such a meeting and we look forward to Bhutan’s first participation in the Paralympic Games next year in Tokyo and of course with female athletes”.
Another participant, Ms Amal Haza’a Ali Munassar, Assistant Secretary General of NPC Yemen, said, “This workshop gave us a good chance for many reasons because of the challenges currently Yemen people are facing. During the workshop we had a lot of benefits and information not only from the organisers but also from the other participants. After the workshop we will do our best for our athletes and want to organise such workshops in the future to share the information”.
The workshop concluded with the presentation of certificates to the delegates by IPC Governing Board member Mr Yasushi Yamawaki.
The full list of NPCs taking part is