September 19, 2019
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IPC deputy head says Tokyo to set new standards for Paralympics

Tokyo, Aug 25 (efe-epa).- International Parlaympic Committee vice president Duane Kale said on Sunday that the Japanese capital would set new standards for the games when Tokyo hosts the next Paralympics in 2020.

He, however, also admitted in an interview with EFE that challenges remain for the event with less than a year to go.

A former Paralympics swimmer from New Zealand, Kale during his visit to Tokyo reviewed preparations for the games to be held between Aug. 25 and Sep. 6, 2020.

In the Japanese capital, he is attending a series of events marking the beginning of the countdown for the sporting event.

Kale said the organizers were doing an "incredible" amount of work, and the popular anticipation and media interest was "higher in Tokyo than what it was in London (2012) one year to go."

"That's the thing about sports; records are set to be broken. It is said that London set the new benchmark, new standards. Tokyo is very well prepared to set a new standard of what the Paralympics are," he said.

However he added that the challenges remained, listing problems such as concerns over pollution in the Tokyo Bay waters, which could affect the paratriathlon, and the lack of accommodation adapted for the needs of the differently-abled.

He said the organizing committee was "already working very hard" on the water quality issue to ensure the safety of athletes.

"We know we can put on more screening facilities to make it a safer environment for triathlon athletes," referring to measures adopted by the organizers to check the levels of harmful bacteria in the water.

Excessive levels of E Coli bacteria had forced the cancellation of the swimming section of a paratriathlon test event in the Tokyo Bay last week, raising concerns over the reappearance of water pollution in the area after it was first detected in 2017 and countermeasures were taken.

Regarding suitable accommodations, Kale said Tokyo currently had only around half of the number of disabled-friendly hotel rooms needed for visitors expected to attend the event.

He said Japanese authorities had approved fresh laws to force hotels to include rooms and bathrooms completely adapted to the needs of the differently-abled, adding that the norms, expected to come into affect before the games, would leave a lasting legacy for the city.

Asked about the extremely high temperatures expected in Tokyo during the games, he said the organizing committee was "well aware" of the concerns and had put in place "a number of countermeasures."

These include misting facilities, fans, shelter from the sun and the availability of liquids for staying hydrated, for athletes as well as spectators.

"At the same time, heat conditions will be slightly lower than they'll be during the Olympic Games," said Kale, highlighting that the Olympics would conclude two weeks before the Paralympics begin, and adding that the heat could even be beneficial in some competitions.

"We've witnessed what great (things) heat does, we've witnessed Markus (Rehm) break the world record," said Kale, referring to the long jump record set by German parathlete Markus Rehm in Tokyo on Sunday.

Rehm broke his own world record by two centimeters by registering an 8.50 meters jump during an exhibition event to mark one year to go for the Paralympics.

The event, held near the new Olympic stadium in Tokyo, saw the participation of Japanese parathletes in the disciplines of 100 meters race, wheelchair tennis and boccia, and is part of many other events held to mark the one-year countdown for Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.EFE-EPA


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