Over 17,100 Supporters - Para-Ekiden in Tokyo 2018 Vol. 1
The Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center (Parasapo) held the parasports event “Para-Ekiden in Tokyo 2018” on March 4 at the Komazawa Olympic Park General Sports Ground. Teams from fourteen prefectures, as well as from Laos—the first overseas team ever—competed in this third installment of the event, for a total of 18 teams and 162 runners. All runners finished the race, and all teams were able to hand their sashes off seamlessly. There were also 17,100 supporters in the venue cheering the runners on, alongside the special supporters.
Runners from eighteen teams all start running at once!
The Curtain Rises on a Sunny Day
The opening ceremony began with greetings by Parasapo Chairman Yasushi Yamawaki, followed by a few words from the Governor of Tokyo and Parasapo Special Advisor Yuriko Koike, Shunichi Suzuki, Minister in Charge of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Yoshimasa Hayashi, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Blind singer-songwriter Koshi Kishita sang the national anthem for the second year in a row.
The athlete’s oath was led by some of the most promising runners from each team—visually-impaired Hisayo Ito (Niigata) from the first section of the race, hearing-impaired Kota Takahashi (Chiba) from the second section, able-bodied female runner Aoi Suzuki (Fukushima) from the seventh section, and wheelchair runner Shintaro Tsukahara (Yamanashi) from the eighth section.
from left to right: Ito, Takahashi, Suzuki, Tsukahara
Even before the opening ceremony, Parasapo Special Supporters Goro Inagaki, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, and Shingo Katori were on board to liven up the event, to the joy of many of the supporters. “I was nervous at first, but I actually do really well under pressure,” said eleven-year old Shintaro Tsukahara, laughing. “It really motivated me to give it my all.”
Showing off the Lego mural (a recreation of the mural by Shingo Katori, inspiring our key message “i enjoy!”, made with 150,000 Lego pieces) before the opening ceremony
Each team in the Para-Ekiden is made up of nine both able-bodied and para-athlete runners (including a guide runner). Each group of runners runs one section of the race (a 2.563-kilometer course) for a total distance of 20.504 kilometers. The runners were of all different ages, with the youngest runner in this event only 11 years old, and the oldest 67, and came from a variety of different demographics—active para-athletes, para junior athletes, former professional athletes, recreational runners, students, and more. And just like last year, there was also a team comprised of comedians from Yoshimoto Kogyo, Japan’s most famous talent agency. These “TEAM Yoshimoto” runners wore eye masks and the like to compete in the same conditions as the other athletes.
President Yoshiro Mori of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Governor Yuriko Koike of Tokyo, and Special Supporters of Parasapo Goro Inagaki, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, and Shingo Katori came to provide their support
A shot from President Yoshiro Mori of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games started the race.
Next: “i enjoy!” - Para-Ekiden in Tokyo 2018 Vol. 2