Emperor Emeritus Akihito Paves Way for Parasports in Japan

Society Sports Tokyo 2020

Tokyo, Aug. 23 (Jiji Press)--Japanese Emperor Emeritus Akihito has helped popularize sports for disabled people in Japan, and current Emperor Naruhito is following in the footsteps of his father as the country is set to hold from Tuesday the Tokyo Paralympic Games, for which the Emperor serves as honorary patron.

The first Tokyo Paralympics in 1964, over which Emperor Emeritus Akihito, then Crown Prince, presided as patron, was a watershed for parasports in the nation. It was an event that “changed the attitudes of people involved” in the international sporting competition, said Nobuko Hibino, professor at Toin University of Yokohama and a board member of the organizing committee of the current Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. She is well-versed in the history of sports for disabled people.

The first Tokyo Paralympics was held over seven days from Nov. 8, 1964, with the first half serving as an international event and the second half as a domestic tournament.

In the opening ceremony for the domestic portion of the Games, then Crown Prince Akihito said that the event was a great opportunity to deepen the correct understanding of and boost interest in people with disabilities, which were said to be still insufficient in Japan. After the Games, he told people involved that a similar event for disabled athletes should be held in Japan on an annual basis.

His support for parasports led to the start in 1965 of what is now the National Sports Festival for People with Disabilities, which has taken place around the country almost every year.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press