• Kyodo

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The president of the International Paralympic Committee said Sunday he is “emotional” over the closing of the Tokyo Games, held amid a global pandemic.

Speaking ahead of the end of the Paralympics, staged following a one-year postponement due to the global health crisis, Andrew Parsons said it was “unbelievable” that athletes had been able to prepare for the 13-day Games and pulled off impressive feats in Tokyo.

“Of course now, at the very last day, we start to think what would have happened if the games were canceled. And many thoughts come to mind,” Parsons said at a press conference. “All the sleepless nights, all the difficult moments, all the difficult decisions that were made.”

“There were many times when we thought these games could not happen even before the postponement, and after the postponement, but from the Japanese side, we always had the support.”

The Paralympics, which opened on Aug. 24, roughly two weeks after the closing of the Tokyo Olympics, featured some 4,400 athletes from around the world — a record number — competing in 22 sports.

While the Paralympics were held without spectators to prevent the spread of the virus, Parsons said the Japanese public “really embraced the Games at the end.”

Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Japanese organizing committee, said the Paralympics will close without having faced “major problems,” but suggested there is more that her organization must do.

“I think the task we face is how history will evaluate these games,” she said at the same press conference.

“The curtains will close on the games, but as long as the organizing committee exists, we must convey their value to many people toward a transformation of society so that they will earn a good evaluation. I think there are still many things we have to do.”

While the Paralympics were held behind closed doors at all venues located in Tokyo and its three surrounding prefectures, some 14,000 students participating in a government-backed educational program watched competitions in person, Hashimoto said.

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