The unveiling ceremony of the countdown board to a sports tournament was held in May.
That event is the Kobe 5 World Para Athletics Championships.
It was originally scheduled to be held the year after the Tokyo Paralympics, but after two postponements, it will finally be held next year, in May 2024.
Behind the two postponements was the Organizing Committee's strong desire to hold the event with an audience.
(Osaka Broadcasting Station Announcement Yuki Goto)
Issues left behind by the Tokyo Paralympics "holding without spectators"
In the summer of 2021, the Tokyo Paralympics, which were held due to the coronavirus pandemic, were closed to spectators for the first time in history due to the influence of the new coronavirus.
We were hardly able to hold the events that were being prepared around the venue.
Para-athletes and related parties believed that "if people could see the athletes' performances live, society would change."
However, the awareness of para-sports and understanding of the diversity that was expected by having people experience and see them firsthand did not progress as much as the people involved had expected.
Atsushi Yamamoto, a leading para-athletics athlete who participated in four consecutive Paralympic Games and placed fourth at the Tokyo Games, shared his thoughts on the Kobe Games.
"The Tokyo Paralympics were held without spectators (in principle), so it was quite a strange stadium, so having them see it on a big stage is a great motivation for the athletes, and I hope that Kobe will see cheers that were not there at the Paralympics."
Kobe World Para Athletics aims for "spectators"
Approximately 1300,2019 para-athletes and officials with disabilities from around the world will visit Kobe and Kansai for the first time in East Asia.
The event was decided in the spring of 2021.
Initially, it was planned to be held in 2022, the year after the Tokyo Paralympics, and to connect that heat to Kobe.
However, due to the postponement of the Tokyo Paralympics, it will be held in 2. In addition, the new coronavirus has decided to postpone it for the second time.
One of the reasons why the organizing committee insisted on holding the event even after postponing it for three years was that they wanted to hold the event with spectators, which could not be realized at the Tokyo Paralympics.
. Yumi Ito, Public Relations Secretariat, Organizing Committee: "Everyone is very cool as an athlete, and of course, when I see the effort behind it, I want to support them.
One year until the opening How to attract an audience
As a test event to check the operation of the Kobe World Para Athletics, the Para Athletics Japan Championships were held for two days from April 4 at the Universiade Memorial Stadium in Kobe City, the same venue as the World Championships.
In anticipation of the actual event, the event was held with spectators, but the stands were conspicuously empty.
Ms. Ito who saw the stands ...
Many people didn't know about it until they came here, so I think the challenge is that they haven't known about it yet. I think it is necessary not only to know about it, but also to have people come to the tournament with interest."
Expanding the circle of para-sports from children
In order to let many people know about the tournament, the organizing committee organized a "Children's Press Experience" at the Japan Championship.
Have elementary school students watch para-athletes play up close.
"Wow~!" "Everyone jumps differently"
Everyone had their own personality!"
Interview with Tomomi Usawa, a long jumper in the prosthetic leg class.
A children's reporter who heard that he had his leg amputated when he was the same age as him...
: "I'm in the fifth grade now, and I'm having so much fun right now, so I thought it must have been hard to cut it."
The interview with Maekawa Kaede also gave him a valuable experience.
"Do you want to hold it?
Heavy. Isn't it hard to run?"
Maekawa: "But this is only about 3 kg, so it's probably lighter than my legs" Children's reporter:
This is the first time I've
seen it up close!"
A children's reporter
who finished the interview said, "I want to tell them that I want them to see it live, and I want to tell them that everyone is amazing."
. Ito: "At the time of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, there was a success story that children first learned about it, and then the whole family came to see it, and it spread to the family.
Sending out one after another in Kobe!
The Organizing Committee is accelerating PR with less than one year to go until the Games.
In May, a park in central Kobe City held a photo exhibition and talk session of para-athletes.
Photographer Mika Ninagawa lined up photos that vividly represented the players.
ITANI Shunsuke (left) Ichinose Mei (right)
In the talk session, two para-athletes talked about their encounter with para-sports and how they train and eat from various angles.
President Akemi Masuda (left), Ishida Tadashi (center), YAMAMOTO Atsushi (right)
On May 5, four para-athletes and dancers with disabilities participated in the Kobe Festival parade. We promoted the event.
The organizing committee hopes that by increasing the opportunities to actually see these para-athletes, it will lead to an increase in the number of spectators at next year's Games.
Gen Kondo (center right)
Ms. Ito, a member of the organizing committee, wants to create an opportunity for the Games to take a step toward an inclusive society.
"I hope that this tournament will be an opportunity for everyone to shine and smile, and to that end, I want to fill the venue with visitors."
Akemi Masuda, Chairman of the Organizing Committee.
"In Kobe's World Paralympics (track and field), I want to value contact. Everyone is different and everyone is good," and I want this to be conveyed to citizens and children to lead the Japan of the future. It's not yet known nationwide, so I want as many people as possible to know about it."
Beyond the Tokyo Paralympics
In an interview, Chairman Masuda said, "I couldn't see Tokyo live, but I would like people to see it live in Kobe."
I (Goto) have been deaf since I was born and usually wear a cochlear implant.
I worked as a reporter at the Tokyo Paralympics.
During the Tokyo Paralympics, not only athletes, but also commentators and guests, many people with disabilities appeared on TV.
As a result, I felt that the reactions of the people around me and in the city had changed from being treated as "people from another world" to the perception that we were in the same world.
I thought this was what para-athletes and related people were saying, "If people can see their performances live, society will change."
Unfortunately, the Tokyo Paralympics were closed to spectators in principle, and I feel that the "change" quickly faded.
It was held with spectators, which could not be done at the Tokyo Paralympics.
For Kobe City and the organizing committee of the Kobe 2024 World Para Athletics Championships, there are still issues to be addressed.
We will continue to cover whether we can realize a stand full of cheers at the tournament one year from now.