Paralympians hope to outshine Covid threat as Games set to open in Tokyo

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Tokyo’s Paralympic Games opened on Tuesday, with athletes hoping to shatter stereotypes and world records despite a year-long pandemic delay and as Japan battles a surge in virus cases.

The national stadium hosted the colourful opener on Tuesday night, themed around the story of a one-winged plane trying to fly, in tribute to the tenacity of thousands of para athletes competing at this year’s Games.

China is expected to continue its gold medal dominance and top the table as it has done at every Paralympics since Athens 2004.

Hanging over the sport however will be the ever-present shadow of the pandemic, which forced a year-long delay and at times appeared to threaten the event with cancellation.

“Many doubted this day would happen, many thought it impossible, but thanks to the efforts of many, the most transformative sports event on Earth is about to begin,” International Paralympic Committee chief Andrew Parson said.

Paralympic athletes will be subject to the same rules as their Olympic counterparts, including daily testing, mandatory mask-wearing and limits on their movement.

Almost all spectators will be barred from venues, though a school programme bringing children to some events is going ahead.

 




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