BLOG: A quick guide to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games – what to watch
Between 24 August and 6 September, the biggest Para sport competition in the world will feature up to 4,400 Para athletes across 22 Para sports, with badminton and taekwondo making their Paralympic debut.
A record number of broadcasters will live telecast 21 disciplines from 19 sports, six more than Rio 2016. This means Tokyo 2020 is expected to exceed the cumulative audience of 4.1 billion who watched the 2016 Games.
With the Games set to be the biggest ever in terms of TV audience, we wanted to take a look at some of the events that are likely to draw the biggest audiences.
How many people watch the Paralympic Games?
This year more than ever, we can expect huge audiences to tune into Paralympic Games coverage to catch all the action from Tokyo 2020. With no family, friends or fans allowed at any of the events, TV viewing will be essential around the world for those wanting to take in all the action of the Paralympic Games.
For the Japanese public, and those friends and family hoping to watch on from the stadiums, it is a real shame that the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that these are the most restricted Games ever. In the first Paralympic ticket window, an unprecedented 3.1 million tickets were requested from the Japanese public. This would have led to the biggest Games ever in terms of ticket sales and goes to demonstrate the increased interest in Para sport around the world.
For the Japanese public, the opportunity to watch these elite Para athletes up close and personal would have been an amazing experience, however, broadcasters around the world are doing all they can to ensure audiences can still tune in to watch their favourite Para athletes and events.
Here in New Zealand, Paralympic New Zealand partners TVNZ and Attitude. will be providing the live feeds from Tokyo 2020 with TV scheduling announcements recently made.
How long does the Paralympic Games last?
Like the Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games in Tokyo will be on for almost two weeks. The opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games takes place on Tuesday 24 August and the closing ceremony will be on Sunday 5 September.
During that time, you will be able to watch coverage of all our New Zealand Paralympic team in action on TVNZ and cheer them on from the comfort of your home.
What to watch
If you have never before tuned in to the Paralympic Games, you are in for a treat. With 22 events to choose from, there is something for everyone and it is truly inspiring to watch the NZ Paralympic Team compete at the peak of their respective Para sports.
We can expect some early medal contenders from New Zealand as the Para swimming and Para cycling events are some of the first in the schedule – both areas where New Zealand is extremely strong.
Para cycling – Track – Wednesday 25 August to Saturday 28 August
Who to watch – Sarah Ellington, Nicole Murray, Rory Mead, and Anna Taylor
We take a strong squad to the track cycling events and all four Para athletes competing in the track events will be making their Paralympic debuts. Sarah Ellington only started in international Para cycling in 2017 but already has 3 World Championship medals across both track and road events.
Para cycling – Road – Tuesday 31 August to Friday 3 September
Who to watch – Stephen Hills, Eltje Malzbender, and Sarah Ellington
On the road, we have another strong lineup with Stephen Hills competing at his second Paralympic Games after making his debut in 2016. He will be joined on the track by two debutants – Sarah Ellington who also competes on the track and Eltje Malzbender.
Para swimming – Wednesday 25 August to Friday 3 September
It’s in the pool where New Zealand is expected to perform and our most decorated Paralympian Sophie Pascoe will lead the medal hunt. Pascoe already has 15 Paralympic medals to her name and will be hoping to add to that collection in Tokyo. She is well supported by Nikita Howarth who will be competing at her third Paralympic Games after she became New Zealand’s youngest ever Paralympian at the London 2012 Games at the age of just 13. Pascoe and Howarth will be joined by Tupou Neiufi and Jesse Reynolds in the pool who will both be competing in their second Paralympic Games, making it a very strong swimming team at Tokyo 2020.
Para athletics – Shot Put – Friday 27 August to Sunday 5 September
Who to watch – Lisa Adams, Caitlin Dore, and Ben Tuimaseve
Lisa Adams is a name we will all be very familiar with. Whilst Adams will be making her Paralympic debut, she is coached by her sister, two-time Olympic gold medallist Dame Valerie Adams and has already broken the world record in shot put four times since she began competing in 2018. Caitlin Dore will be making her second appearance in the Paralympics and in the men’s competition, Ben Tuimaseve will be making his Paralympic debut, completing a formidable team in the shot put.
Shooting Para sport – Monday 30 August to Sunday 5 September
Who to watch – Michael Johnson
Our only representative in the Shooting Para sport event will be four-time Paralympian Michael Johnson who will become only the second New Zealand Paralympian to represent his country at five Paralympic Games. He will be looking to add to his impressive medal haul which includes one gold and back to back bronze medals in 2008 and 2012.
Wheelchair Rugby – Wednesday 25 August to Sunday 29 August
Who to Watch – The Wheel Blacks – Hayden Barton-Cootes, Cody Everson, Robert Hewitt, Tainafi Lefono, Gareth Lynch, Gavin Rolton and Mike Todd
The Wheel Blacks are made up of seven Para athletes who will all be making their Paralympic debut in Tokyo and hoping to follow up on the success of the team at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens when Team New Zealand took home the gold medal. Prior to that, the Wheel Blacks also collected two bronze medals in 1996 and 2000, however, Australia has been the dominant team in the last two Games, a trend we hope will be overturned in Tokyo.
We will be taking a total of 29 Para athletes to Tokyo and we hope you will tune in to watch them all in action and get behind the team throughout the duration of the Games.
Make sure you keep an eye on our website for daily updates on all the action from the day and keep an eye on some amazing content from our media partners, TVNZ and Attitude.