HOW TO WATCH THE PARALYMPIC GAMES TOKYO 2020:The Paralympic Movement has grown by leaps and bounds since the inaugural Paralympic Games in 1960, when roughly 400 athletes took part in Rome. That number has grown tenfold heading into the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, and also exponentially on the rise is the amount of television coverage of this year’s Games.
So the question becomes, if you’re not on board yet, what are you waiting for?
The first of a record 1,200 hours of coverage across all NBC platforms begins 7 a.m. EDT on Tuesday and continues for 13 days of action. With the Games now just hours away, here’s what you need to know and how to watch the biggest and best Paralympic Games yet.
Just How Big Are This Year’s Paralympic Games?
The Tokyo Games are expected to feature more than 4,500 athletes competing in 22 different sports. Team USA consists of 234 athletes, plus six sighted guides. That group includes 129 returning Paralympians, with four of them making their sixth appearance: Lisa Czechowski (goalball), Tahl Leibovitz (table tennis), Tatyana McFadden (track and field) and Asya Miller (goalball).
What’s New At This Year’s Games?
Two new sports join the Paralympic program this year, with badminton and taekwondo rounding out the list of 22. That’s the same number of sports as Rio, as sailing and soccer 7-a-side were dropped from the program. Badminton will have medal events in singles, doubles and mixed competitions with both standing and wheelchair classifications. Taekwondo competition takes place in three weight classes each for men and women.
Several sports have also seen new events and classifications added, including in paracanoe, which sees the introduction of va’a boats for the first time. These boats are longer than kayaks and feature an outrigger float on the side, reminiscent of the small fishing boats of Polynesia. The new events make for 539 total medal events, up from 528 in Rio.
What Makes The Paralympic Games Unique?
Apart from being the largest sporting event in the world for disabled athletes, the Paralympic Games showcase two sports that are not a part of the Olympic program that have evolved specifically for adaptive athletes. Boccia, a sort of cross between lawn bowling and curling, has been contested at the Paralympic Games since 1984. And goalball, a sport similar to handball but just for visually impaired athletes, has been on the Paralympic program since 1976. The goalball tournament begins Aug. 25 and boccia gets underway on Aug. 30.