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Opening Day of the Nippon Foundation Para Arena

On June 1, the opening day of the “Nippon Foundation Para Arena,” the parasports gymnasium built as a new training environment for para athletes. The opening day gathered much attention from the media, and they covered the report about para arena. In this report, we cover the Shinto rituals (cerebrating the completion of the arena), the opening ceremony, as well as the preview of the facility afforded to members of the media, alongside photos of the event.

Construction for the arena began last December, on the grounds of the Museum of Maritime Science, located in the Rinkai Fukutoshin area of Tokyo. It opened on June 1, 2018, operated by the Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center (hereafter, “Parasapo”).

The relative lack of facilities capable of hosting parasport events is, as always, an issue, particularly now with the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics coming up in two years. This is especially a problem with wheelchair-based events held in gymnasiums, as facilities either lack barrier-free measures, or refuse these events due to the damage the wheelchairs can cause to the floors, making it difficult for them to find places to practice. Japan is also short on gymnasiums capable of hosting events to publicize parasports. The Nippon Foundation Para Arena was built to meet these needs, thus working towards a continual improvement of Japanese para athletes, and solving issues with the publicization of parasports in general.

Opening day started off with the Shinto rituals, where guests and staff members prayed together for divine protection and the safety of the facility.

Wheelchair rugby player Shinichi Shimakawa engaging in the Shinto ritual, “tamagushi-hoten”

Participants toasted to the Shinto ritual “shinshu-haitai”

Afterwards, the guests gathered in front of the entrance, where the opening ceremony was held in front of the guests and staff members.

Yasushi Yamawaki, Chairman of the Parasapo, the owner of the facility, spoke at the ceremony. “The arena’s entrance is meant to express strength and vibrance. We want players to utilize this facility as much as possible, and turn this place into a jumping-off point for the parasports movement.”

Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of the Nippon Foundation, spoke as well. “We’ve received a written manifesto from Yoshiro Mori (President of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) that states, ‘Without the success of the Paralympics, there is no success for the Olympics.’ We want to work to educate people about parasports, particularly as this area, Odaiba, is frequented by students on school trips.”

Yoshiro Mori, President of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games
“From the summer to the fall, many planes will fly over the skies above this facility. It is a great thing for this to be the first thing people see when they fly into Tokyo. It is my wish that this facility be something that allows the players to live up to their full potentials. We hope the athletes are able to utilize it to their heart’s content.”

Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo
“Everything in this facility, down to the smallest details, has been designed to make it easier for the athletes to use. We hope that as the athletes work towards winning a medal, that they will give hope to people not just in Japan, but throughout the world. Athletes, spectators, supporters alike—let’s all work together and do what we can to make the Paralympics a success.”

Mitsunori Torihara, Chairman of the Japanese Para-Sports Association’s Japanese Paralympic Committee
“It was difficult for the athletes to find a place to practice on a regular basis—particularly gymnasiums. This arena, built specifically for parasports, is revolutionary for para athletes.”

Susumu Yoshida, Director of the Japanese Para Powerlifting Federation
“It was very difficult to find places to practice. We’re so grateful that this facility has been built for us, and we feel that the world in general is changing very quickly. The inside of the arena has an understated design, but the players will act as the decoration, the color.”

Shinichi Shimakawa, Wheelchair Rugby
“Most gymnasiums wouldn’t allow us to practice, not with our wheelchairs. We’re going to be making full use of this facility as we work towards winning those medals at the Tokyo Paralympics. And we want to make this the place the jumping-off point for the publicization of parasports in general.”

The guests then went on to do the tape cutting ceremony, after which the parasports charity theme song “Ame Agari no Step” was played throughout the facility, livening up the atmosphere of the event. The media was then allowed inside for a look into the facility.

Next >>> Go for 2020! The Nippon Foundation Para Arena
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