Portugal's Paralympic mission is already in Tokyo to "warm-up" to the competition taking place between August 24 and September 5 in the Japanese capital. In total, 33 Portuguese athletes will participate in eight different sports: swimming, athletics, cycling, judo, equestrian, boccia, canoeing, and badminton. Tokyo is the first city to host these games twice, after the first in 1964. The Paralympic Games are the third-largest sports event in the world, after the Olympics and the World Cup.
Increasing competitiveness and attracting new talent
José Manuel Lourenço, President of the Portuguese Paralympic Committee (CCP), makes the case that there is a movement with growing dynamic towards these games and these athletes, alongside with greater public interest. "If we take a look at the number of records getting broken in each competition... this is what happened 30 or 40 years ago on the Olympic side", he said in statements to the press, underlining the increase in competitiveness in all sports.
The president of the CPP recognizes that "there has been an effort" by the authorities to match Paralympic and Olympic sports. "The stock market values are the same and the sports merit awards are also the same as the Olympic ones", explained the official, who, however, notes that it is "fundamental to invest in sports development. We urgently need clubs and federations to invest in attracting new talent", he said.
More public support is welcome
“It is difficult to be among the best athletes in the Olympics, it is even harder to be among the best in the Paralympics. These athletes here today are already winners in a fight taken by hand, a difficult fight, which is the cultural struggle within a society that must look in the mirror and accept itself as it is. This is what building a social democracy is all about”, said Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the Portuguese President, highlighting the country's gratitude towards these athletes and recalling the importance of equalizing the support and awards of Olympic and Paralympic athletes: “it took decades of struggle for the awards of the Paralympics to be matched to those of the Olympics. The government took this decision in good time”, he said.
In the last edition, back in 2016, Portugal won four bronze medals (boccia and athletics) at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Whatever the results of this year's competition – in which Olympic athletes have already achieved a historic result for the country –, the president of the CCP assured that these Portuguese representatives are going to Tokyo with a "spirit of commitment and mission".
Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will be held behind closed doors, as it happened with the Olympic Games. With Tokyo currently having a record number of positive cases of the new coronavirus, the organizers of the Games decided, a week before the beginning of the event, to carry out the events with no fans in the stands.
Check out the list of Portuguese athletes present in Japan
These are the brave men and women representing Portugal in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games:
- Athletics (10): Ana Filipe; Carina Paim; Cláudia Santos; Cristiano Pereira; Hélder Mestre; João Correia; Manuel Mendes; Miguel Monteiro; Odete Fiúza; Sandro Bessa.
- Badminton (1): Beatriz Monteiro.
- Boccia (10): Abílio Valente; Ana Sofia Costa; André Ramos; Avelino Andrade; Carla Oliveira; Cristina Gonçalves; José Macedo; Manuel Cruz; Nélson Fernandes; Pedro Clara;
- Canoeing (2): Alex Santos; Norberto Mourão.
- Cycling (2): Telmo Pinão; Luís Costa.
- Equestrian (1): Ana Mota Veiga.
- Judo (1): Djibrilo Iafa.
- Swimming (6): Daniel Videira; David Grachat; Diogo Cancela; Ivo Rocha; Marco Meneses; Susana Veiga.