The Paralympic Games were supposed to open on August 24 of this year, but have unfortunately been postponed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The LeidenAsiaCentre research project ‘The Road to Tokyo 2020: Access to Sports for Persons with a Disability in Japan and The Netherlands’ has been extended into next year, when the Paralympic Games will hopefully take place. To provide a preliminary overview of the project and its results, the LeidenAsiaCentre has produced a working research paper: “A Study of the Tokyo 2020 ‘Game Changer Project’ between the Netherlands and Japan: Leveraging Disability Sports in Local Communities in Japan”, that details the progress of the research up until now, and details the main findings with regards to the Game Changer Project in cooperation with the Dutch Olympic Committee and Dutch Sports Federation NOC*NSF.
The Game Changer Project is an on-going effort to promote disability sports in Tokyo during the run-up to the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The project was started by the Dutch Olympic Committee and Dutch Sports Federation (NOC*NSF), and the Japan Sport Council (JSC). Concisely, the Game Changer Project’s aim is to spread disability sports in Japan using the Tokyo 2020 Games as a catalyst for change.
This study contextualizes the Game Changer Project’s contents and approaches by exploring how disability is viewed in Japan and the importance of education and community in creating an inclusive environment. In creating practical strategies for the promotion of disability sports, policymakers have taken into account local contexts and adopted different approaches. The study thereby examines how the leveraging of large-scale sports events is carried out through a combination of international cooperation and the placing of responsibility with local stakeholders by using a community-based approach. Examination of these developments can offer valuable insights into how positive outcomes of sports mega-events can be realized.