Paralympics success despite pandemic ‘unbelievable’: IPC chief

Tokyo, Sep 5 (EFE).- The president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on Sunday said it was “unbelievable” that the Tokyo Paralympic Games went ahead despite the enormous logistical challenge posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Andrew Parsons spoke at a press conference held on Sunday by the Tokyo organizers ahead of the closing ceremony of the Games at the Olympic Stadium in the Japanese capital after the 13-day event.

“It has been unbelievable that the athletes had been able to prepare for the 13-day games and pulled off impressive performances,” said an “emotional” Parsons on the final day of the event, referring to all the obstacles the participants had faced for months due to the global health crisis.

“Of course now, at the very last day, we start to think what would have happened if the games were canceled. And many thoughts come to mind,” he added. “All the sleepless nights, all the difficult moments, all the difficult decisions that were made.”

The Paralympics, like the Olympic Games that closed on Aug. 8, have been held amid unprecedented restrictions including the absence of spectators , a ban on the entry of overseas visitors into the country and limitations on the athletes’ movements.

“There were many times when we thought these games could not happen, even before the postponement, and after the postponement, but from the Japanese side we always had the support,” the IPC president said.

A record 4,400 athletes from all over the world took part in the Paralympics, which were held a year later than scheduled due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Parsons rued that the event had to be held without spectators to prevent infections and pointed out that although the Games did not enjoy much public support in Japan before they were held, “the Japanese public really embraced the games in the end.”

The president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, Seiko Hashimoto, stressed that the Paralympics were coming to a close without having faced any “major problems.”

During the Paralympics and the weeks preceding them, some 300 Covid-19 infections were detected in athletes and other personnel involved in the Games, including a foreign participant who had to be hospitalized, although he was later discharged.

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