Tokyo 2020 unveiled the design of the Paralympic Games medals on Sunday, exactly one year to the Opening Ceremony of the Games.
The medals were shown to the public for the first time during a ceremony marking the start of a one-year countdown to the 25 August-6 September event. Tokyo will be the first city to host the Summer Paralympic Games twice.
The motif of the design is a Japanese fan symbolising the Paralympics as “the source of a fresh new wind”.
Spelled out in braille on the face of the medal is “Tokyo 2020”. Along the side there is the unique feature of circular indentations – one for gold, two for silver, three for bronze – that make the medal types easy to distinguish by touch for athletes with vision impairments.
Like the Olympic Games medals, the Paralympic medals are manufactured from recycled previous metals extracted from mobile phones and small electronic devices as part of the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project.
Torchbearer uniforms unveiled
Sakiko Matsumoto of Hakuhodo Products, Inc. was chosen as the medals’ designer from 421 candidates by a 13-member selection panel, including Syndey 2000 Olympic Games women's marathon gold medallist Naoko Takahashi.
Matsumoto said for the motif, she wanted to pick something synonymous with Japan but with an understated feel that would not upstage the athletes wearing the medals.
“Since this is an event being held in Tokyo, I wanted it to have a very Japanese impression,” Matsumoto said. “I thought about what has a Japanese feel and the fan came to mind.
“When I got a call at work and found out I had won the competition, my mind went completely blank. It felt like the news was about someone else. I put the phone down and just went back to work. None of my colleagues at the office knew.”
The uniform for the Paralympic Torchbearer was also unveiled. During the Torch Relay, flames will be lit in each of Japan’s 47 prefectures as well as Stoke Mandeville, England – the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement.
The flames will be merged into a single flame in Tokyo before the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games.
The most successful Paralympics ever?
Duane Kale, Vice-President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and four-time Paralympic swimming champion, had singular praise for Tokyo 2020, saying the Games will top London 2012, which is widely regarded as the most successfully organised Paralympic Games ever.
“As a Paralympian I’m a little bit jealous of my fellow Paralympic athletes,” Kale said. “I am so confident Tokyo 2020 will surpass the success of London 2012 and have more impact and transform society more than any previous Paralympics.
“I promise you that the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, the sport will be spectacular and the atmosphere outstanding and the experience life-changing. It is an event not to be missed.”
World record-holder and three-time Paralympic gold medallist in the F44 long jump, Germany's Markus Rehm, echoed Kale’s sentiments about the building enthusiasm for Tokyo 2020.
“I think the (National Stadium) looked really, really amazing outside and the Japanese people will do everything to make these Games legendary,” said the German. “The excitement is growing and it’s great to see how people are interested in sports.
“I’ve been here for a week and it’s been amazing. The interest is huge.”