• December 6, 2021

Tokyo Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony: Live Updates

Credit…Chang W. Lee / The New York Times
Credit…Chang W. Lee / The New York Times
Credit…Chang W. Lee / The New York Times
Credit…Chang W. Lee / The New York Times
Credit…Chang W. Lee / The New York Times
Athletes of the Japanese Paralympic team at the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony.
Credit…Chang W. Lee / The New York Times

As is traditional, Japan, the host country, closed the parade of nations. One of the two flag bearers, Koyo Iwabuchi, a second-time table tennis player and Paralympian, is currently ranked second in the world and one of the favorites to win a medal in Tokyo.

Japan hasn’t won table tennis medals at the Paralympic Games in the past five games, and Iwabuchi has said he wants to break the streak. He is also known for saying “more than a gold medal”, which means that he wants people to know that not only are he competing for a medal, but that people understand and appreciate the value of Para sports.

Mami Tani, Japan’s other flag bearer, has competed in three previous Paralympic Games in the long jump. He will compete in Tokyo as a triathlete. She gave birth to a son in 2015 and switched to triathlon the following year.

Athletes from the United States Paralympic team at the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony.
Credit…Chang W. Lee / The New York Times

TOKYO – Melissa Stockwell, a triathlete and Iraq War veteran, and Chuck Aoki, the captain of America’s wheelchair rugby team, carried the flag and led the American team in the parade of nations.

Stockwell, 41, who received a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, will compete in triathlon at her third Paralympic Games. He competed in three swimming events in 2008 and returned in 2016, when triathlon was added to the Paralympic Games, winning a bronze medal. She was chosen to carry the flag at the closing ceremony in 2008.

Aoki, 30, will also compete in his third Paralympic Games, after winning bronze with his team in 2012 and silver in 2016, when the United States lost a riveting final against Australia.

TOKYO – Five countries sent athletes to the Paralympic Games for the first time this year: Bhutan, Grenada, Maldives, Paraguay and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

A total of 21 countries decided not to participate this year. Reasons included pandemic travel restrictions, not having an athlete qualify for the Games, and pregnancy.

A total of 162 nations and a refugee delegation are participating in the Tokyo Paralympic Games. That’s more than it went to the Rio Games in 2016 and just shy of London’s record of 164 in 2012.

A volunteer carrying the Afghan flag in place of the country's absent athletes,
Credit…Chang W. Lee / The New York Times

Paralympic athletes from Afghanistan were unable to fly to Tokyo safely due to the chaos surrounding the Taliban’s takeover of the country. But in a show of respect for the country’s two Paralympic athletes, the Afghan flag was carried to the parade of athletes by a Paralympic volunteer wearing a tricolor blue Tokyo 2020 jersey. A representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees he also walked with the flag.

The Paralympic Refugee Team leads the parade of nations at the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Credit…Chang W. Lee / The New York Times

TOKYO – The athletes’ parade is always the centerpiece of the opening ceremony. In the Olympics, Greece usually goes first, because it is the nation where the Olympics originated. As with the Olympic Games, the number of athletes in the Parade is likely to decline compared to typical Games, because coronavirus restrictions prohibit athletes from entering the Paralympic Village up to five days before their competitions.

The first team to enter the stadium on Tuesday was the Paralympic Refugee Team, which is making its second appearance at the Games.

Both flag bearers have a deep meaning. Alia Issa, who was born in Greece after her family fled Syria, is the first woman on a refugee team at the Paralympic Games. She will compete in the track and field club launch event.

Abbas Karimi, a swimmer and refugee living in the United States since 2016, will be the only Afghan athlete at the Games. Athletes who were scheduled to compete for the country withdrew from the Games because they were unable to secure safe flights to Tokyo amid the chaos of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. Karimi has lived and trained in Portland, Oregon and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. She will swim 50 meters backstroke and 50 meters butterfly.

Japan's Emperor Naruhito, left, and Andrew Parsons, president of the International Paralympic Committee, saluted during the start of the opening ceremony.
Credit…Eugene Hoshiko / Associated Press

TOKYO – His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, Naruhito, will officially declare the Paralympic Games open. Japan’s imperial family has a long history of supporting the Paralympic Games: the current emperor’s parents, Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emeritus Michiko, adopted the 1964 Paralympic Games in Tokyo as one of their main causes when they were prince and crown princess. Tokyo is the first city to host the Paralympic Games twice.

The support of the then Crown Princes and Princess started a gradual shift in attitudes toward people with disabilities in Japan, said Kenneth J. Ruoff, historian and specialist on Imperial Japan at Portland State University.

“As hard as it may be to believe now, it was said at the time that people with disabilities should stay hidden or hidden,” said Professor Ruoff.

At the time, the royal family had a strong social influence, Ruoff added, and the Crown Prince helped change public opinion through his view that people with disabilities “should play sports for the same purpose as everyone else. others, which included, above all, enjoyment and not just rehabilitation. “

After the 1964 Paralympic Games, the Imperial couple regularly visited hospitals and institutions where people with disabilities lived.

“The emperor and empress resolutely, for decades, continued to draw attention to people with disabilities by visiting them with the media in tow,” Ruoff said.

The Olympic Cauldron sitting closed and without light in an empty stadium before the opening ceremony.
Credit…Chang W. Lee / The New York Times

TOKYO – The organizers of the Paralympic Games have said the event is more than a sports competition. It has repeatedly been presented as a way to draw attention to the 15 percent of the world’s population with disabilities.

“This is the only global event that puts people with disabilities center stage and gives people with disabilities a voice,” said Andrew Parsons, president of the International Paralympic Committee, at a press conference the day before the event. opening ceremony. “Throughout the pandemic, they have been left behind and denied a level of services that people without disabilities have had access to.”

Generating attention for the Games, which open just over two weeks after the closing ceremony of the Olympics, could be challenging, particularly in Japan, where a persistent wave of coronavirus infections has overwhelmed the hospital system in Tokyo and puzzled the public.

Outside the Olympic Stadium before Tuesday’s ceremony, there were noticeably fewer people than before the Olympic Games opening ceremony, when crowds of people gathered to take selfies along the street around the stadium. On Tuesday, a line of about 10 people pointed their cell phones at the scene. The low turnout may be due in part to the fact that the Paralympic ceremony landed on a weekday, while the opening ceremony of the Olympics took place on a Friday night and the closing festivities on Sunday.

Hanako Ohkawa, 34, appreciated the lack of crowds. She brought her two daughters, 4 and 6, to the stadium. They wore caps with Olympic and Paralympic mascots.

“We did not come on the day of the opening ceremony of the Olympics, because we thought there would be too many people,” Ohkawa said. She said she was concerned about the spread of the coronavirus in Tokyo, “but since the Olympics took place, there is not much they can do about it now. They cannot cancel the Paralympic Games or else it would be quite unfair. “

Takeru Shibata, 27, who works in recruiting, happened to pass the stadium around the start time. “I didn’t know the opening ceremony was today,” he said. “I would watch Paralympic games if I find them on TV, but I don’t particularly plan on watching anything.”

The symbol of the Paralympic Games,
Credit…Chang W. Lee / The New York Times

When: 6:55 am-10am ET on Tuesday

Where: NBCSN, NBCOlympics.com, NBC Sports app

TOKYO – The opening ceremony of the 16th Summer Paralympic Games will take place at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium on Tuesday. The stadium has a capacity for 68,000 people, but will be practically empty due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the exception of Paralympic athletes, their support staff, stadium workers, volunteers and members of the media.

NBCSN will begin a live broadcast of the opening ceremony at 6:55 am ET on Tuesday. The ceremony will be broadcast on NBCSN the same night at 7, which will lead to live coverage from the first day of competition.

Throughout the Games, NBCSN is expected to host live coverage of the competition each night, generally from 9 pm to 9 am ET. Other coverage can be seen on NBC and Olympic Channel. Here’s a full agenda from Paralympic TV listings on NBC, NBCSN and Olympic Channel.

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