The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics started on August 24. This event reminds me of the founder of the Paralympics’ wise saying, “It is ability, not disability, that counts.”

投稿日:2021年8月25日 更新日:

I was very proud of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics held on August 24 under the concept of “We have wings.”

While the Olympics were founded by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, a French educator and historian, the Paralympics were founded by the passion of Sir Ludwig Guttmann (1899-1980), a Jewish German-born English neurosurgeon. In 1939, he left Nazi Germany with his family for Oxford, England, and a few years later he was appointed director of the spinal cord injury section in the Stoke Mandeville Hospital near London. With the outbreak of the Second World War, a lot of wounded soldiers were carried to his hospital one after another. He thought that sports would be an effective way to treat them, and incorporated wheelchair basketball, archery, swimming and the like into their rehabilitation program. This new rehabilitation program turned out to be very effective. In 1948, he organized a wheelchair sports competition among local hospitals which led to the modern Paralympic Games. Sir Guttmann proved that even people with severe disabilities can play sports if they want to, and that they can achieve their dreams. Sir Ludwig Guttmann left a wise saying, “It is ability, not disability, that counts.”

We should not forget Dr. Yutaka Nakamura (1927-1984), the father of sports for the disabled people in Japan. He was an orthopedic surgeon from Beppu City, Oita Prefecture, and is well-known as the Father of the Japan Paralympics. While making a research trip to London in 1960, he met with Sir Guttmann at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital, and he was shocked at Sir Guttmann’s new medical method to integrate sports such as wheelchair basketball, swimming, archery and the like into the rehabilitation program of spinal cord injuries. He brought back this new method to Japan, and in 1961, he held the first ‘Oita Games for the Physically Disabled’ in Oita Prefecture which led to the Tokyo Paralympics in 1964. (Since I worked for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 as a student volunteer, I am proud of my involvement in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.)