June 14, 2018
Tokyo- A gymnasium dedicated for disabled athletes aiming to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games has been completed in Tokyo's Daiba waterfront district, great news particularly for wheelchair athletes, although the use of the new facility will be limited until autumn 2021.
As wheelchairs tend to damage floors, many wheelchair athletes are struggling to find gyms they can use, according to the Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center, which built the 800-million-yen new special gym.
Daisuke Ikezaki, 40, who won bronze as a member of the Japanese wheelchair rugby team in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics, often faces difficulties gaining permission for using gyms for the sport.
Concern over possible damage to floors "comes first" to his mind when he explains to gym operators that the sport involves hard contact, he says.
If wheelchairs overturn after collisions, the floors can be damaged. Ikezaki once had to go 90 minutes by car to get to a gym which he was allowed to use.
The new gym, whose floor is coated with special wax, has courts for six sports, including wheelchair rugby, wheelchair basketball, boccia and goalball.
It has an air conditioning system that is good for athletes who have spine damage and therefore are unable to control their body temperatures.
Furthermore, getting to the gym is easy because it is located in a tourist area, a feature also making it convenient for athletes to find restaurants or other places to get meals.
The new gym is accessible in every way, Ikezaki says. "We can come to the new gym without any stress and practice really hard."
The new facility will be available until autumn 2021, with demolition eyed afterward.
"If we spread this news across Japan, similar moves may take place somewhere," Ikezaki says. "I want to see such moves, and for these to happen, athletes need to work hard." Jiji Press
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