As the London 2012 Paralympics have drawn to a close, Japan is hoping that the high interest generated by the Games in the country will help its bid to become host to the Olympics and Paralympics in eight years’ time.
Japanese sports authorities are looking to make Tokyo the next Olympic and Paralympic city in 2020 after Rio de Janeiro hosts in 2016, following one of the world’s highest level of interest in the Paralympics by Japan. Coverage was aired daily in Japan at prime viewing times and on nationwide television networks.
The achievements made this year by the Japanese Paralympic team of 116 competitors merited the support they received from their home country. The women’s goalball team came away with the country’s first-ever team gold in a Paralympic Games. Shingo Kunieda also won gold in the men’s single wheelchair tennis. The men’s rugby team left with the silver medal, narrowly missing out on the gold by one goal to China.
Despite these achievements, Japan ranked its lowest yet in the medal tables, at 24th with a total of 16 medals. However, though it was not the most successful Games for the Japanese Paralympians who have yet to recover their great form of the 2004 Athens Games (where they won 53 medals including 17 golds) they have certainly come some way since they first competed in the Paralympics in Tokyo in 1964, both in terms of their achievements and support from their nation. If enthusiasm continues to increase and Japan beats rivals Turkey and Spain to secure its bid, its Paralympic team can only improve and, we hope, find its next Mayumi Narita.
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