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Tokyo 2020 Trial Event READY STEADY TOKYO – Archery Sees Para-Archers Competing as Well

READY STEADY TOKYO – Archery, a trial event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, was held from July 12-18, 2019, in the very midst of Japan’s rainy season. The venue was Yumenoshima Park Archery Field, in Koto City, Tokyo.

Lukow of the Recurve event, a former military servicemember who has competed in the Rio Paralympics

A Rainy-Day Tournament Becomes a Valuable Learning Opportunity

This archery trial event comprised both the Olympics and the Paralympics. 131 archers from 26 countries participated in the event, including 5 para-archers. From overseas, there was Zahra Nemati (Women’s Recurve/Iran), who competed in both the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics, and who aims to win her third consecutive Paralympics gold medal in Tokyo 2020, Michael Lukow, who competed in the Rio Paralympics, and Timothy Palumbo (both Men’s Recurve/US). From Japan, there was Tomohiro Ueyama (Men’s Recurve), who has already qualified to compete in the Tokyo Paralympics, as well as Chika Shigesada (Women’s Recurve).

Nemati, who aims to compete in both the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, after doing the same for Rio

Yumenoshima Park Archery Field is close to the ocean. Winds are expected to be strong for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, and there were some archers at this event that had prepared for the wind. On the actual day of the event, however, it was another day of rain. This was somewhat to be expected, what with Japan’s seasonal trends—and yet, there were archers that struggled in the weather.

“I’d locked my bangs down with hairspray, but it all came apart in the rain [laughs]. The rainwater went in my eyes and blurred my vision too, and it was just awful. But knowing that this could happen at the Paralympics too, I have to set up a strategy for it. I’m going to discuss it with my coach and figure it out,” said Ueyama.

“I wear glasses, so it’s hard in the rain. What with the weather and all, my score in the qualification round was 650, which is not so good. It wasn’t the performance I wanted, but it was okay,” said Nemati.

Shigesada, however, was able to come through even in the rain. In the qualification round on the first day, she managed a score of 604—very close to her personal best of 607, achieved in the qualification round for the World Archery Para Championships, held in June in the Netherlands.

“It’s only recently that I’ve started being able to get scores in the 600s at international tournaments. I think the fact that I was able to get in the 600s in this kind of weather shows that my skills are finally getting up there,” she said, looking satisfied with her performance.

The Care Behind the Ramp to the Stage, Applied Across the Facility?

Part of the purpose of this trial event was to test the set-up/operation of the venue and the volunteer staff.

The READY STEADY TOKYO logo and wall colors were received very well by the archers

“Archery is a sport that requires a lot of concentration of its athletes, so it’s important that we make the archers feel comfortable, especially with regards to the visual aspects of the venue—the color of the safety wall behind the targets, the position of the logo, the color and position of the “box” that’s used to film the archers straight-on. We want to listen to the opinions of the archers that competed today, and make any necessary adjustments. Some other important things we wanted to evaluate were the systems aspect, like the calculation of the scores and the way they’re displayed on the scoreboard, the presentation aspect, like the hosts that are there to liven up the crowd, and the operation of the temporary facility that was set up specifically for the finals rounds.”

So said Yasuo Mori, Deputy Director of the Games Operation Bureau, Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The reaction to the visuals, including the colors of the walls, was generally positive, but at this point there’s still uncertainty regarding the layout of the temporary facility for the Olympics and Paralympics. The qualification rounds are to be held in the public Yumenoshima Park Archery Field, and the finals rounds are to take place in a temporary facility built on the athletic field across the street. For this trial event, the entire floor of the facility had been packed with gravel, with paths comprised of rubber and metal boards placed on top of the gravel. The reason was, according to Deputy Director Mori, “the need to be efficient with regards to this whole event, including costs.” This caused obvious issues, however, in terms of accessibility for those on wheelchairs.

“We understand that there are still issues, including the steps at the entrances and exits of the facility. This is a temporary facility, so it won’t have the exact same layout as the venue for the qualification rounds, but we’d like to listen to the archers’ feedback and discuss these issues with those in charge, to create a facility that’s simple to take down but still very much accessible. The gravel problem will, of course, also be discussed,” said Deputy Director Mori.

Those on wheelchairs expressed their discomfort regarding the gravel floors of the facility

Many of the archers also voiced their anticipation with regards to the facility.

“It’s not in its finished form yet, and there’s a lot, I think, that still needs to be worked on. I actually told them on training day about a spot where the ground was just too uneven, and they fixed it. There are wheelchair users with heavier impairments than I have, so I want to give feedback from that kind of broader perspective, and not just my own personal experience,” said Ueyama.

Cables that were out in the open were dealt with after feedback from a para-athlete

“They’re still in the middle of creating this facility. I’m excited to see how it turns out,” said Lukow.

This facility has an elevated shooting line for the finals rounds, meaning the area where the archers stand to make their shots is higher than the ground, and built almost like a stage. For this event, they had built a ramp that led up to this stage, for wheelchair para-archers like Nemati. Yuko Okura, Operation Director of the archery facility, tells us that they are planning on implementing this ramp in the Olympics and Paralympics as well.

There was a ramp leading up to the finals round stage

“Like in Rio, [where Nemati competed in the Olympics as well] there’s a high chance that there will be archers in Tokyo 2020 that will compete in both the Olympics and Paralympics. We’ve considered that possibility, and are planning to install the same ramps for the Olympics and the Paralympics,” said Okura.

If this kind of consideration were applied to the rest of the venue, this event at the Paralympics is sure to be a comfort and a success for both the athletes and the audience.

text by TEAM A
photo by Yusuke Nakanishi

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