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Tokyo’s first Paralympics, in 1964, helped change societal perspectives on people with disabilities in Japan, driving a paradigm shift from pity to empowerment, according to two para-athletes who took part in Asia’s first Summer Games.

Hideo Kondo, who competed in archery and wheelchair basketball among other sports in 1964, said the event was a life-changing experience. He was exposed to the chasm between what it meant to be a Japanese para-athlete at the time and how overseas athletes viewed themselves and were viewed by others.

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