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Tokyo Paralympics: See The Highlights As The Games Wrap, U.S. Places Fourth In Medal Count

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at September 5, 2021

Topline

The Tokyo Paralympic Games came to an end Sunday after nearly two weeks of competition among the world’s top athletes with disabilities, which played out amid Japan’s worsening Covid-19 situation with approximately 300 people connected to the Games testing positive and Japan’s prime minister declining to run for reelection as a result of the surge.

Key Facts

China ultimately earned the most Paralympic medals, taking home 207 medals including 96 golds, while the U.S. came in fourth in the total medal count with 104 medals and 37 golds, behind Great Britain (124 medals) and Russian Paralympic Committee (118 medals).

The U.S.’s gold medals included wins in men’s wheelchair basketball and women’s sitting volleyball Sunday just before the Games closed, where the teams defended their titles in the sports with victories against Japan and China, respectively.

U.S. athletes also earned world records in multiple swimming and track and field events and took home gold medals in the triathlon, equestrian, archery, cycling and table tennis.

Afghanistan’s two-person Paralympic team—including the country’s first-ever female Paralympic athlete—was ultimately able to compete at the Games as the result of a “major global operation,” after organizers initially said they would not be able to leave their country as the Taliban took control.

As the Games ended Sunday, organizers said a total of 301 people connected to the Paralympics had tested positive for Covid-19, including 13 athletes—and at least one participant was hospitalized.

Big Number

4,405. That’s the number of athletes that competed in the Paralympics, according to the Associated Press, a record number of participants in the Games who competed in more than 500 events. That included a record number of female athletes—1,782—and the U.S. Paralympic team had more women than men for the first time.

Surprising Fact

Tokyo is the first city to host the Paralympics twice after the Games first debuted in 1960, ahead of Tokyo’s last Summer Games in 1964. The next city to host them twice will be Los Angeles in 2028.

Tangent

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Friday he will not run for reelection later this month, due to criticism over how his government has handled the country’s worsening Covid-19 situation. Covid-19 cases in Japan and Tokyo are now declining after Japan’s cases skyrocketed in mid-August, but the country is still seeing a record number of Covid-19 patients receiving intensive care in hospitals and the Japanese government reportedly plans to extend its state of emergency in Tokyo through the end of the month.

Chief Critic

The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics have drawn widespread criticism and protests for taking place despite the pandemic. “Now that Prime Minister Suga is forced out, taking the blame for his failure to combat the coronavirus, it would be impossible to claim that the Olympics and Paralympics were successful, a unifying moments [sic] for Japan,” Sophia University political scientist Koichi Nakano told the AP.

Key Background

The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games took place this summer after a year-long delay due to the pandemic. The Games played out with stringent Covid-19 protocols in effect, including closing the events to spectators, though the International Olympic Committee did not require athletes to be vaccinated. The Tokyo Games are the most expensive Olympic Games on record, a September 2020 study from the University of Oxford found, with a $16.7 billion price tag. The AP notes lost ticket sales from the pandemic likely contributed to nearly $800 million in additional losses as well. 

Further Reading

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Opening Ceremony In Photos (Forbes)

Paralympic closing marks end of Tokyo’s 8-year Olympic saga (Associated Press)

Closing ceremony concludes Tokyo Paralympics impacted by COVID-19 (Kyodo News)

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