Paralympic Games to begin in Tokyo with record number of athletes

This photo provided by the Olympic Information Service shows a training session Saturday in the Tokyo Aquatics Center ahead of the swimming events at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. EPA-EFE
This photo provided by the Olympic Information Service shows a training session Saturday in the Tokyo Aquatics Center ahead of the swimming events at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. EPA-EFE

Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Two weeks after the conclusion of the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, the Paralympics are set to take center stage Tuesday in Japan.

Paralympians Chuck Aoki and Melissa Stockwell will carry the American flag during Tuesday's Opening Ceremony at Olympic Stadium, which hosted the Opening and Closing ceremonies for the Olympics.


Aoki, a wheelchair rugby player, and Stockwell, a triathlete, will lead a delegation of 240 U.S. athletes who will compete in the 13-day event that runs through Sept. 5.

The pair of three-time Paralympians, however, are preparing for a different kind of experience, as the Paralympics face many of the same challenges as the Olympics. Tokyo remains under a COVID-19-induced state of emergency as cases continue to surge in the region.

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The Paralympians also had to deal with a similar one-year delay as the Olympics, and international fans -- including family members -- are prohibited from traveling to Japan for the event.


Despite the continued COVID-19 hardships, the Paralympics will set multiple records this year in its ongoing expansion.

NBC and its networks are scheduled to broadcast about 1,200 hours of coverage via TV and livestream -- the most ever -- and a record 4,400 athletes will compete in the Paralympics.

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The Games will feature delegations from 161 nations and territories, plus a Refugee Paralympic Team. Five nations are set to compete for the first time.

The International Paralympic Committee estimates 4.25 billion viewers around the world will tune in to watch the Paralympic Games, eclipsing the 4.1 billion people who watched the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.

"With more live sport available to broadcasters than ever before, I am confident we will break all viewing records for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games," Alexis Schaefer, the IPC's commercial, partnerships and broadcasting director, said in a statement.

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"The role of broadcasters in screening the Games has never been more important given there are no international spectators and limited domestic crowds," Schaefer said.

"But the increase in the number of broadcasters and their levels of coverage is testament to the appeal of the Paralympic Games and the elite sporting performances of Para athletes."


How to watch:

The Paralympic Opening Ceremony is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. EDT Tuesday and will air on NBCSN, with livestreams accessible on and the NBC Sports app.

There also will be a re-airing of the Opening Ceremony on Tuesday at 7 p.m. EDT. That will lead into coverage from the first day of competition.

Throughout the Paralympics, NBCSN will broadcast live competitions each night primarily about 9 p.m. EDT. Some coverage will be show on NBC and the Olympic Channel.

The Closing Ceremony is scheduled for Sept. 5 at 7 a.m. EDT.

A complete schedule of Paralympic TV listings on NBC, NBCSN and the Olympic Channel can be found here.

Biggest events at the Paralympics:

The Games will start with wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, cycling (track) and swimming Tuesday at 10 p.m. EDT. Later in the week, goalball, track and field and wheelchair tennis will commence.

Other events at the Paralympics include judo, triathlon, table tennis, rowing, sitting volleyball, road cycling, canoe-/kayak and marathon.

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