With the conclusion of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Japanese can now breathe out and continue to live their lives.
We managed to talk to the secretary general of the Kazakhstan Para Volleyball Federation, Batyr Kadyrbaiuly, and find out from him how the Paralympic tournament went in the land of the rising sun.
How difficult is it for Paralympians to arrange transfers?
It is not difficult, but there are some challenges: transporting wheelchairs, accompanying blind athletes, and assisting in fulfilling some athletes’ vital needs. But, in general, there were no particular problems with flights.
Were there any differences at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo regarding the arrival protocol compared to other mega sports events?
Due to COVID-19, there are very strict requirements for arrival. Two weeks before arrival, teams must be in quarantine already. In the last 5 days before departure, we passed 3 PCR tests, installed applications for tracking close contacts, and even for tracking movements. In Tokyo, we had to pass saliva PCR tests every day. Thus, we were able to find several positive athletes.
The Olympic movement has changed quite a lot due to the worldwide pandemic. How has the coronavirus changed the preparation and conduct of competitions among Paralympic athletes?
The main change is in compliance with the full quarantine during training camps, social distancing norms, etc. In addition, international events have practically been eliminated, and those that can be organized have become as complicated as possible. Coordination of the ministries of health, police, foreign affairs, and border services is required. This is very long and dreary.
How do you like the Paralympic Village and sports facilities?
Japan prepared very well, with many venues ready to host the games since 2019. However, all competitions are held without spectators amid protests from Tokyo residents to cancel the games. In addition, due to the increase in the number of cases, the Japanese Prime Minister decided to resign. Regarding the accessibility of facilities and the city as a whole, Tokyo is fully adapted to the needs of people with disabilities. I would say that they do not stand out from the bulk of Tokyo residents precisely because they have no problems with moving around the city and access to the primary services of the city. Regarding the village – I take notice of the cardboard beds, and unfortunately having a bathroom for several people. But food was great, there was a recreational area, and the atmosphere in the Olympic village.
What is missing from the Tokyo Paralympics?
First of all, spectators. The absence of support from spectators at the venue is noticeable. Also, those who live in the village have no right to leave it, except for the route: village – venue – village.
What new Paralympic sports are introduced in Tokyo that was not in Rio?
New sports include badminton and taekwondo. These increase interest in the Paralympics. On the other hand, there will be no 7х7 football (cerebral palsy) and sailing.
How about the forces of the Paralympics? Which countries are strong contenders? Has the alignment changed?
Traditional leaders include China, Russia, the USA, Great Britain, Ukraine, Brazil, Iran. There are surprising performers such as Azerbaijan and Israel. In my opinion, the main reasons why this happens is that these countries have tremendous experience in training athletes, transfer and improve existing knowledge, and pay great attention to the training of athletes from an early age. What is also essential is that they conduct scientific and analytical work, have professional doctors, classifiers and physiotherapists, and also analyze their opponents, including using the achievements of science and statistics.
We thank Batyr for such a detailed explanation and we wish the Kazakhstan team new victories!