Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Legacy, Disability and Japan ─ Muzukashi desu ne?

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In August 2021 Tokyo, Japan became the first city to host the Paralympic Games twice. In the lead up to the Games Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike claimed that hosting a successful Paralympic Games was more important than a successful Olympic Games in order to improve the lives of disabled people living in Tokyo and Japan as a whole. Based upon interviews carried out with twenty-six Japanese disabled people living in the Tokyo Metropolitan area in May 2019, as well as other secondary data, this paper critically analyses some of the claims made for Paralympic legacy by the Japanese government and the Games organising committee in light of comments made by the interviewees and my own experiences as a researcher in mega event legacy and critical disability studies. We question whether the focus upon disability related to an ageing population and a further focus on a barrier-free environment, without really increasing understanding regarding the impact of attitudes towards disability will really lead to improvements in the lives of disabled people in Japan. I also highlight some of the key issues such as language use and segregation policies prevalent within Japan that may make achieving a genuinely positive Paralympic legacy a difficult proposition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-93
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of the Paralympic Research Group
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2022

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