IPC President Andrew Parsons meets Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike ©ITG

International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons admits Tokyo faces "challenges but also have opportunities" to deliver a "great legacy" when meeting the capital’s Governor Yuriko Koike prior to the Paralympics here.

Parsons arrived at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in the ward of Shinjuku this morning to meet Koike with just one day to go before the Games are due to open.

Yasushi Yamawaki, IPC Governing Board member, Tokyo’s vice-governor Mitsuchika Tarao, Rinji Nakamura, director general of the bureau in Olympic and Paralympic Games preparation, and Miyoko Miyachi, executive assistant to Koike, were also present at the meeting.

The Paralympics are set to go ahead despite rising coronavirus cases across Japan with Tokyo registering 4,392 new infections yesterday - the highest number ever reported on a Sunday in the capital.

During the meeting with Koike, Parsons said he gained "encouragement" from how organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics contained the spread of coronavirus within the Athletes’ Village.

"I was here in Tokyo for the first half of the Olympics and it was great to see how you delivered a Games that the athletes were enjoying themselves," said Parsons.

"We saw great competition but at the same time athletes and officials were being protected and Tokyo population was being protected from COVID.

"For the second half of the Games I went back home to Brazil and through the television coverage I could still feel the energy of the Tokyo Games."

IPC President Andrew Parsons believes Tokyo can create a
IPC President Andrew Parsons believes Tokyo can create a "long-lasting" and "great" legacy after hosting the Paralympic Games ©Getty Images

"It gave me great encouragement when we saw the number of positive cases of the Village population.

"The number was so low due to the response of the Organising Committee in terms of tracking and isolating them, not allowing them to spread the virus within the Village but also to not have contact with the Tokyo population.

"This morning I was with the Chef de Missions and telling them that the athletes have fought so hard for this.

"We are one day away from the Opening Ceremony and we must remain vigilant until the very last minute until everyone is back home."

Parsons expressed his commitment to delivering a safe event and praised Koike for seizing the opportunity to stage the Paralympics despite the challenges of COVID-19.

"We have been working closely with your office and understand the great legacy that will come out of these Games, particularly the Tokyo population with disabilities," said Parsons.

"There will be a long-lasting legacy in Tokyo where there is a more inclusive attitude in years to come.

"By hosting the Paralympics Games you have challenges but also have opportunities.

"It was great to see you as a leader take the opportunity to make this Games a catalyst for change in Tokyo society."

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike spoke of the growth of boccia in Japan ©Getty Images
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike spoke of the growth of boccia in Japan ©Getty Images

"Diversity is a reality, inclusivity is a choice and you have chosen to take the opportunity of the Paralympics to make Tokyo a more inclusive city, not only for the citizens of today but for the citizens of the future."

Koike underlined the importance of ensuring a "safe and secure" Games and urged all athletes to stick to the COVID-19 rules set out in the Tokyo 2020 playbook.

She also highlighted the growth of boccia in Japan since Tokyo was awarded the Games in 2013.

"We have really focused on trying to engage especially the children and society at large so that they may enjoy Para sport," said Koike.

"We have tried to create opportunities where sports with or without disabilities can come together through the power of sport.

"Boccia is very easy to understand and it is a sport that anyone can enjoy.

"I believe there are numerous boccia teams established all over Japan.

"With the knowledge of what are Para sports and having experienced and enjoyed them, we are ready to witness the athletes from all over the world to excel and reach the ultimate performance."