Paralympics: All fine with Tokyo 2020, except hotels

Andrew Parsons

Tokyo: The Paralympics chief has said the 2020 Games are ‘on track’, but raised alarm bells over a dearth of accessible hotel rooms in Tokyo with only one year to go.

“I couldn’t be happier with the preparations so far. With one year to go, we’re totally on schedule, on track,” Andrew Parsons told AFP in an interview to mark 12 months until the start of the games on 25 August, 2020.

However, he admitted that his ‘biggest concern’ was still the poor selection of hotel rooms equipped for the thousands of disabled supporters, journalists and coaches poised to descend on Tokyo for the 13-day competition. Athletes and some support staff will be housed in the Olympic village where there will be enough wheelchair-friendly rooms.

But outside the village, currently only half of the fully accessible rooms needed for the Games are available and Paralympic officials do not want hotels to be too widely dispersed around the vast Japanese capital for fear of creating a knock-on transport headache.

Japanese legislation previously required hotels with 50 or more rooms to have just one wheelchair-friendly option and although this has recently been slightly improved to ensure one percent of rooms are accessible, the change will not come into effect until after the Games.

Parsons said the lack of accessible hotel rooms highlighted a social stigma sometimes faced by disabled people in Japan.

“Most probably it is perceived in Japan that people with disabilities don’t travel for leisure, for business, so why have accessible hotel rooms?” said the 42-year-old Brazilian.