More than 1,000 fans turned out to get involved in a wheelchair basketball event held to mark five years until the 2020 Paralympic Games begin in Tokyo ©Tokyo 2020

More than 1,000 local residents turned out for a wheelchair basketball event in Tokyo today to mark five-years-to-go until the 2020 Paralympic Games begin in the Japanese city.

The event featured 100 fans, who got the chance to try out the sport, as well as a number of Japanese wheelchair basketball players including Paralympians Hiroaki Kozai and Shinji Negi.

Negi captained the Japanese team at Sydney 2000. 

Fellow wheelchair basketball players Hiroyuki Nagata, Shohei Harada and Kiyoshi Fujisawa were among those who featured alongside the fans.

Motoko Obayashi, who competed at three consecutive Olympic Games and was named Most Valuable Player at Barcelona 1992, also took part alongside London 2012 Olympic bantamweight boxing bronze medallist Satoshi Shimizu.

Basketball player Tomoya Nakamura was another participant at the event, jointly hosted by Tokyo 2020 and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which was held on Diver City Tokyo Plaza.

It is hoped that the wheelchair basketball spectacle will help garner support for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, which are due to begin on August 25 and run through to September 6.

It took place at a temporary basketball court, installed on Odaiba, an island in Tokyo Bay which will stage the sport at the Games in five years’ time.

“It was great fun trying out the wheelchair basketball experience with everyone,” Fujisawa said.

“I really hope that everyone who came today will become more interested in wheelchair basketball and help the sport to get an even larger fan base.”

Paralympian Hiroaki Kozai was one of the wheelchair basketball players who got involved with the event
Paralympian Hiroaki Kozai was one of the wheelchair basketball players who got involved with the event to promote Tokyo 2020 ©Tokyo 2020

Tokyo 2020 also claim it gave the supporters an idea of what is in store when the Games take place, and they hope to strengthen the "Unity in Diversity" mantra when the event comes to the capital.

“I hope that the 2020 Paralympics will change general perceptions of sports for persons with an impairment and that the sports will continue to develop way beyond the 2020 Games,” Kozai added.

The Paralympic Games will feature 22 sports after the International Paralympic Committee Governing Board confirmed the programme for the event in January.

Canoe and triathlon, due to make their debuts at Rio 2016, will join athletics, archery, boccia, cycling, equestrian, football seven-a-side, goalball, judo, powerlifting, rowing, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, table tennis, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis in taking place at Tokyo 2020.

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