135 Japanese Paralympians Ready to Go for Gold at London Paralympic Games
London, 24 July 2012 – With less than one week before the commencement of the London 2012 Games, the Japan Paralympic Committee (JPC) officially inaugurated the Paralympic Team representing Japan with a boisterous send-off at Tokyo yesterday. Representatives from government, business and sport, including Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, and sport fans from across the nation expressed their full support for the delegation of 135 athletes and wished them the best in their quest for victory at the fourteenth Paralympic Games.
Mitsunori Torihara, JPC President and Tokyo 2020 Council member, said: “Today, we gather together as one to show our stalwart support for our Paralympians. I sincerely hope the Paralympics will help further promote sporting opportunities internationally for all people with disabilities. And of course, I look forward to seeing our Paralympians put on a strongshowing as well. Additionally, performing well at the London Games will add further momentum to our Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic bid and help build excitement in Japan.”
The key speakers at the event included Prime Minister Noda, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Hirofumi Hirano, Senior Vice Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Chinami Nishimura, Chef de Mission of Japanese delegation and JPC Secretary General Kunio Nakamori, and Sir David Warren, the British ambassador to Japan.
Flag-bearer and swimmer Keiichi Kimura, who will be competing in his second consecutive Paralympic Games, said: “Last time was the first time I participated and I was still in high school, so it was all very new and over far too quickly. This time, I’m focused on producing results and am very determined to bring home a medal or two.”
The event also included wheelchair marathoner Wakako Tsuchida, Athens Paralympic gold medallist in the Women's 5000m; three-time consecutive Paralympian in Wheelchair Rugby Hiroyuki Misaka; and swimmer Rina Akiyama, who will be competing for the second consecutive time.
Tokyo 2020 CEO Masato Mizuno said: “I wish our Paralympians the very best of luck in achieving their Paralympic dreams. One of our goals in bidding to host the 2020 Games is to help the nation of Japan and the Paralympic Games form a closer relationship and to create excitement around this dynamic event. Also, although Tokyo has already made great strides in improving accessibility, by organising Games of excellence and innovation, we want to continue to take advantage of the latest technologies to develop a 100% barrier-free capital to welcome the world.”
The JPC is working closely with the Tokyo 2020 team to ensure that the bid plan and venues will be convenient, accessible and comfortable for all Paralympians and spectators of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. “The experience and excitement we plan to deliver must be enjoyable for every one of us,” added Mizuno.
The Paralympic Games open on 29 August and close on 9 September. There will be about 4,000 athletes participating in 503 competitions, and Japan’s Paralympic Team will strive to beat their results from Beijing: five gold, fourteen silver and eight bronze medals.
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