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2021年 9月 30日

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Tokyo Successfully Holds Historic Paralympic Games

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After months of controversy and worry, the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games played out in Japan’s capital from August 24 to September 5, 2021 without any major incident.

There were plenty of historic developments, though, helping make the two week global gathering one of the most successful in the Games history.

“In 12 magical days, athletes gave the world happiness, confidence and hope,” International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons said during the closing ceremony on September 5, during an event praised by viewers.

The origins of the Paralympics can be traced back to the years after World War II. A British neurologist Sir Ludwig Guttmann organized a sporting competition and rehab event for veterans with spinal injuries suffered from the conflict. He held similar events in the decade after.

The Olympics introduced the Paralympics proper in 1960, in Rome. This first edition featured around 400 athletes from 23 countries, and in the years after the Paralympics were held in the same host city as the Summer Games, including Tokyo 1964.

When Tokyo won the rights to hold the 2020 Olympics, they also secured the Paralympics.

Alongside the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, the Paralympics had been under intense scrutiny over the past year as the COVID-19 pandemic played out. The organizers, however, took steps to make sure athletes, staff and others involved would be protected from COVID-19 when they arrived in Tokyo. To that end, Paralympics organizers announced no spectators would be allowed to watch events, while also advising locals to avoid watching marathon events from the street. A select number of school children were allowed to attend events.

While these circumstances made for a Paralympics like no other before it, the mood around the Games were upbeat, with increased media coverage around the world and athletes expressing overall happiness about the experience.

It also made history. The most athletes ever participated in the 2020 Paralympic Games, with 4,403 competitors from 163 nations taking part.

The Tokyo Paralympics also saw a record number of female athletes taking part in events. A total of 1,853 women qualified for the Games, marking an 11 percent increase from the 2016 edition of the Paralympics held in Rio de Janeiro.

The Japanese delegation boasted the biggest number of athletes at the event. The home nation brought 254 participants to the Games.

They performed quite well, too. Japan captured 51 medals in total, including 13 golds. That was the first time Japan won more than 10 golds in a Paralympics since 2004. That was good for an overall 11th place finish in the medal table.

China topped the medal count, capturing a whopping 207 total with a table-leading 96 gold. Great Britain was second, and the United States took third.

Although it is still too early to tell what the legacy of the Paralympic Games will be for Tokyo, many are optimistic that the event will help improve the public’s understanding of those with disabilities.

“By watching the Paralympic Games I think people’s perception of those with disabilities has changed,” Mami Tani, who competed in the Games, said. “They see the fun the athletes are having, how energetic they are and how brilliant they are.”

(528 words)

Key Words and Expressions

  1. play out — to perform something to the end
  2. closing ceremony — a formal act to close an event
  3. praise — to express warm approval of something
  4. rehab (=rehabilitation) — a process of returning to a healthy life by training or treatment
  5. introduce — to put something into use or operation
  6. upbeat — being cheerful, optimistic or prosperous
  7. make history — to do something that will be recorded and remembered for a long time
  8. qualify for — to possess the right to participate or do something
  9. delegation — a group of persons chosen or elected to represent others
  10. perception — a belief or awareness of something

Reading Comprehension Test

  1. Fill in the blanks with the correct numbers.
    Figures on the Tokyo 2020 Summer Paralympic Games
    Participating Countries: (①) nations
    Number of Japanese Paralympic athletes: (②) participants
    Number of Women Who Qualified for the Games: (③) women
  2. How did the 2020 Paralympics make history?
    a. 4,403 competitors took part in the Games.
    b. A record number of male athletes took part in events.
    c. The Games were held for the first time in Japan.
    d. The Games were held for three weeks.
  3. Which team finished first in the Paralympic medal table?
    a. United States.
    b. China.
    c. Japan.
    d. Great Britain.
  4. What was the mood like at the Tokyo Paralympic Games?
  5. What is a possible legacy of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics?
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