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Asia needs to have more participants, says Asian para chief
As participants at the Tokyo Paralympic Games get ready for the start of action on Wednesday, Asian Paralympic Committee President Majid Rashed has raised concerns over the low participation by countries of the region at Tokyo 2020.
Though Asia has more participants competing in Tokyo and 40 per cent of them will be female, compared with 37 per cent in the previous edition in Rio, it is a fact that 48 per cent of the region's athletes come from just two countries - China and Japan. India's participation has grown from 19 in Rio to 54 in Tokyo.
"A closer look reveals that there is still much to do in the region. 48 per cent of Asian athletes come from just two countries (China and Japan), 18 Asian NPCs (National Paralympic Committees) are sending fewer than five athletes and six Asian NPCs will not be competing at all. The pandemic will have affected some of these numbers of course, with the poorer nations being hit very hard," the Asian Paralympic Committee chief said in a blog from Tokyo.
"I think it is vital that we focus on closing the gap between the nations where para-sport is established and the ones where it is still in its infancy because we know what para-sport can do to change the lives of people living with disabilities," Rashed said.
"We will be cheering on athletes from two new NPCs, Bhutan and the Maldives who will be making their Paralympic debut and we will be welcoming back Yemen who will be competing for the first time since 1992," said Rashed.
Rashed said the launch of the "WeThe15" movement by the IPC will help bring change.
"That's why it's been great to see the launch of the WeThe15 campaign which aims to transform the lives of the world's 1.2 billion persons with disabilities who represent 15 per cent of the global population. It makes me very proud that the Paralympic Movement is spearheading this as we know that the Games can have a bigger impact than just medals won."