By Barrier Free Japan
June 6th 2019
Recent reports such as this from Kyodo News points towards a possible lack of preparedness when it comes to disability for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic & Paralympic Games.
I applied to be a volunteer for the Paralympic Games at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games – the online volunteer application form gave you the option of choosing which of the Games you would prefer to volunteer for – Olympic or Paralympic. On May 29th I received this email.
I had two thoughts.
Firstly, I have to say, I was really happy to receive a reply from the Tokyo 2020 Games organizers. Actually, I would say I was ecstatic. As a resident of Japan who has a disability, I am very excited about the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, just as I was as a disabled British citizen about the London 2012 Paralympic Games, which started shortly after I moved to Japan.
However, I was concerned about how the ‘TV call’ for ‘orientation’ seemed to be limited to those whom are resident outside of Japan.
I reside in Kobe and have left-sided spastic hemiplegia, a form of cerebral palsy.
Many disabled people have conditions that involve physical symptoms such as the inability to control bodily movements. Such conditions make interviews by ‘TV call’ – by various apps like Skype or FaceTime – preferable.
Everyone presents themselves in their most favourable light when they are at their most relaxed, but without access to internet-based or ‘TV call’ for interviews, a disabled person is often at an unfair disadvantage. The physical stress of trying to appear at one’s best at an interview, can be unduly exhausting (and expensive) for potential candidates who have disabilities. For example, non-disabled candidates don’t have to consider whether the means of transport to an interview, be it a train, bus or plane – is accessible – a disabled person often has to do so. A late bus or train due to a lack of ‘assistance’ can mean a late appearance to an interview.
However, I was still excited by the email. So, I clicked on the link, and started entering the required information, I then read what the Tokyo 2020 Games required about footwear:
So secondly, I was curious as to how a disabled person like myself – my feet are of different sizes (my left is wider and a little shorter than my right) – might give the correct shoes size to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Organizers. There wasn’t, initially at least, a way to communicate the relevant information on the form provided.
So I emailed them (sorry for my spelling mistakes):
And I received this automated reply:
However, a day later I received this email saying;
“Tokyo2020 will provide you with shoes to you according to larger size.
Please tell the staff at the training session when you participate in it.”
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. The organizers, or at least whomever was in charge of sending the email, had made an effort in replying. I may not become a volunteer, although I find the the phrase ‘when you participate in it’, at the very least, to be hopeful.