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Organisers of Tokyo Olympics Urged to Learn from University's Work Around Disability Sport

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The organising committee of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be ‘strongly encouraged’ to work alongside the University of Worcester as they look to build the profile of disability sport in Japan ahead of the Games.

The University of Worcester is internationally recognised as a centre of excellence for inclusive sport, and the fully accessible University of Worcester Arena has helped to continue the legacy of the London 2012 Paralympics, widely considered the greatest ever.

Last month, a group of Japanese academics visited the University of Worcester to observe the work that is going on surrounding disability sport, and to lay the foundations for future partnership work.

Among the delegation was Dr Nobuko Tanaka, Associate Professor at Toin University of Yokohama and Counsellor to the CEO of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee. Professor Tanaka, who is also an advisor to the Japanese Paralympic Committee, believes that Worcester’s example should be followed.

She said: “This is my second visit to Worcester, and the thing that strikes me most is that, when other people or institutions say ‘we can’t’ do something, the people here at Worcester set about finding the ways in which we can.

“It’s the easy option to accept that something is unachievable, but the University of Worcester sets out to achieve what others may dismiss.

“I have introduced the University’s philosophy to the Tokyo 2020 organising committee in an attempt to spread that message, and I will be strongly encouraging them to work and study alongside the University of Worcester.”

Tokyo won the bid to stage the 2020 Games 18 months ago, and the host city baton will be passed to organising committee when Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic and Paralympic Games conclude next year. Both the 2016 and 2020 Paralympics will attempt to build on the huge triumph of the London Games.

Since the curtain came down on London 2012, the University of Worcester has helped to drive this legacy forward. The University Arena has accommodated countless regional, national and international disability sport fixtures and events, whilst also helping to break down barriers to sport participation amongst all social groups, making the facility truly inclusive.

Mick Donovan, Head of the University’s Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, says: “We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved at the University of Worcester.

“In many ways, London 2012 was a real watershed moment for disability sport and, in the three years that have passed since those Games, we have built on that success, attempting to make sport accessible and enjoyable for all, whatever their level of ability.

He continues: “We do recognise that there is still plenty of work to be done, both in this country and abroad with regards to disability sport, and we are therefore delighted that Professor Tanaka and her colleagues are placing such importance on ensuring that Tokyo 2020 builds on the excellent work done during and since London 2012, and that they are so keen to work alongside our experts here at Worcester.”