According to a 2021 survey conducted by the Sasakawa Sports Foundation (SSF), Japan only has about 150 sports facilities used either exclusively or preferentially by people with a disability. This is a very small figure when set against the about 9.64 million people across the country who have a disability.
Lack of accessibility in sports facilities and infrastructure limits the involvement of individuals with disabilities in sports, making it tough for athletes to find a safe and supporting environment to jump-start their sporting careers at an early age.
Toshiyuki Saito, the head of the All Nippon ID Sport Association, also known as ANISA, is urging the IPC to allow competitors with intellectual impairments to contest a broader range of sports to give them more visibility at the Paralympics.
“They should increase the number of intellectual disability Paralympic medal events in order to give athletes with intellectual disability a chance to inspire the world,” Saito said.
The Nippon Foundation Para-Arena, a dedicated gymnasium that opened in 2018 as a facility to strengthen athletes with disabilities in preparation for Tokyo hosting the Paralympics, is expected to end operations by the end of fiscal year 2021.
Seiko Hashimoto said the highest priority was given to ensuring they were delivered in a “safe and secure” manner by putting anti-coronavirus measures in place. She refrained, however, from declaring the event a success with an eye on the approaching Paralympics.