Category: Olympic Games

United Nations: Tokyo Paralympics lead towards a more inclusive society.

Innovators are joining Paralympians to discuss how sport can help to build a more inclusive society in a series of online discussions organized by the United Nations to coincide with the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, which continues until 5 September.

After losing her right leg in a car accident as a Japanese high school student, Kaede Maegawa was grateful when her friends offered her support.

Yet, she sometimes felt that she wouldn’t be capable of doing anything on her own.

In order to regain her confidence, she asked her friends and teachers to let her try do things on her own.

This started her on the road to becoming an elite athlete, and a competitor at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

Ms. Maegawa shares her story during SDG Zone at Tokyo panel discussion, in which three inspirational Paralympians talk about the power of sport to expand horizons, and what the Paralympic values – courage, determination inspiration, and equality, mean to them.

Ms. Maegawa, who competes in the long jump, is joined by renowned Sierra Leonean table-tennis para-athlete George Wyndham, and Miki Matheson, three-times Paralympic gold medalist in ice sledge speed racing.

Innovations featured in the Paralympics can eventually help all disabled people, explains Ken Endo, CEO of the technology company Xiborg, in a conversation highlighting technology, design, and initiatives that are making sport more accessible and enjoyable for all.

Mr. Endo leads a project to make a running-specific prosthesis called “blade” available for all, not only for athletes, and is working to break down various barriers, especially in developing countries, exploring how locally available materials can be used to develop blades and increase the number of people using prostheses.

The panel also features Lucy Meyer, Spokesperson for the Special Olympics-UNICEF USA Partnership, for young people with disabilities, and a five-times gold medal swimmer in the Special Olympics.

Ms. Meyer, who also has cerebral palsy, says that doctors told her parents that she wouldn’t be able to sit up or swallow but “we are so happy to report that the doctors were very wrong!”

She is very active in Special Olympics programme which enables children with and without disabilities to compete together in team sports.

“It’s important to me that everyone accepts and includes everyone, but especially people with disabilities, because we are no different.”

The last session of the SDG Zone at Tokyo looks at what sport can bring to the next generation, and how it can help societies to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and improve, according UN News.

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Olympic athletes describe the power of sport to change the world.

Leading athletes, influencers and innovators have been sharing their thoughts on the role that sport can play in building a better world for all, in UN-led online discussions held to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics.

Sport becomes something that can change the life of refugees who are living in refugee camps.

Because they can achieve something, they can overcome anything that they pass through…and it gives them a platform”, says Pur Biel, a member of the first-ever Olympic Refugee Team at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

Mr. Biel, a participant in the UN’s SDG Zone at Tokyo series of online talks this week, explained how sport had helped him to live through traumatic experiences in his home country, South Sudan.

The athlete’s experience was echoed by the many other speakers, who shared a common message; that sport can bring about positive transformation in the world, from bringing hope to refugees, to encouraging climate action, and building societies where everyone can excel, regardless of their background.

Tsuyoshi Kitazawa, a former member of Japan’s national football team, stressed the role of sport in building bridges: “whatever you feel in the Games is made possible because the world is playing as one team”, he said.

Izumi Nakamitsu, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, added that the values sport promotes, such as mutual respect, teamwork, equality, and fair play, are very similar to those that help to promote the development of peace.

“Sport is close to people’s lives, bringing joy and inspiration”, noted Kaoru Nemoto, head of the UN Information Centre in Tokyo.

“Sport provides us with courage and determination, which are needed more than ever to go through this difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through these conversations, we hope to highlight the ways that sport serves as an enabler to advance the Sustainable Development Goals, for a greener, more equal, inclusive, and sustainable world for all”. according UN News.

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Tedros, the WHO Director-General: “Tokyo Olympic Games has the power to inspire”.

The head of the United Nations World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has welcomed the start of the Olympic and Paralympic Games as a chance to spread “hope to the world”.

Speaking in the Japanese capital Tokyo, he said the world must unite with “determination, dedication and discipline” to triumph over the COVID-19 pandemic.

“More than any other event (the Games) have the power to bring the world together; to inspire; to show what is possible,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization told the International Olympic Committee, with the Olympic flame in his hand. 

He warned that the world was now in the early stages of another wave of infections and deaths, urging all countries to embark on a “massive global push” to vaccinate at least 10 per cent of their populations by September. 

Today, 75 per cent of vaccines have been administered in just 10 countries, Tedros said, while in low income countries, “only one per cent of people have received at least one dose”. 

The WHO chief said that the world’s failure to share vaccines, tests, and treatments, including oxygen, is fuelling “a two-track pandemic” between the haves who are opening up, and the have-nots who are locking down. 

“This is not just a moral outrage; it’s also epidemiologically and economically self-defeating”, he said, warning that the longer the inequity persists, the slower the recovery will be.  

More transmissions will lead to more potentially dangerous mutations, even greater than the devastating Delta variant, he cautioned. 
 
“And the more variants, the higher the likelihood that one of them will evade vaccines and take us all back to square one”, signalled the WHO official, reiterating that “none of us is safe until all of us are”. 

According UN News Tedros called the pandemic a test in which “the world is failing” and reminded that we are not in a race against each other, but against the virus. 

“In the time it takes me to make these remarks, more than 100 people will lose their lives to COVID-19”, he said. “And by the time the Olympic flame is extinguished on the 8th of August, more than 100,000 more people will perish”. 

COVID has already taken more than four million lives, and the toll continues to rise as the number of deaths this year, has already more than double last year’s total, according to the WHO chief. 

“The people of the world are sick and tired”, he said, “sick of the virus…the lives and livelihoods it has taken…the suffering it has caused… the restrictions and disruptions to their lives…the turmoil it has caused to economies and societies…[and] the dark clouds it has cast over our futures”. 

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