Having no spectators is a challenge: International Paralympic Committee chief

Believes global TV audience will put Paralympics on the centrestage

Having no fans at the Tokyo Paralympics will be “a challenge”, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) chief Andrew Parsons said on Wednesday, but he is confident the event will reach “more people than ever before”.

The Paralympics are set to open behind closed doors on Tuesday, after organisers decided this week to follow the Olympics’ example in banning spectators over virus fears.

State of emergency

Japan is currently battling record coronavirus infections, with Tokyo and other parts of the country under a state of emergency.

International Paralympic Committee president Parsons said the decision to ban spectators will have “an impact that we cannot minimise”, but he believes a global TV audience will still put the Paralympics on the centrestage.

“Of course, the fact that we will not have spectators at the venues is a challenge, but we believe we will reach more than four billion people through broadcasting,” he said.

“So we still believe the reach of these Games will be incredible. We will reach more nations and more people than ever before.”

Surging cases

The Games comes with virus cases surging across Japan. More than 20,000 new daily infections have been recorded in recent days, driven by the more contagious Delta variant.

Japan’s government has insisted the Paralympics will be held safely and that it remains committed to hosting it.

Around 4,400 athletes are expected to take part, and like their Olympic counterparts they will face daily testing and restrictions on their movement.

Parsons said the implementation of the Olympic “bubble” convinced him the Paralympics can work.

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