Tokyo 2020 Paralympics: if you’re watching from Australia, here’s what you need to know

Tokyo 2020 Paralympics: if you’re watching from Australia, here’s what you need to know

When do the Games start?
The opening ceremony takes place at 9pm AEST on Tuesday, 24 August, which marks the official beginning of the Games, and the closing ceremony just under two weeks later on 5 September signals the end. Even though the Covid-19 pandemic forced a one-year postponement, the Paralympics are still referred to as “Tokyo 2020”, mainly for marketing purposes.

How can I follow the Games?
The Guardian will be running a daily liveblog for the duration of the Games, so you won’t miss out on a single medal won. The first will launch in the buildup to the opening ceremony, taking in the latest news, features and commentary from Japan and back on home soil.

Otherwise, the Seven Network will broadcast the Games free to air, with coverage spread across its channels 7, 7TWO and 7Mate. Seven will also livestream every moment via its 7plus app and their website. The Australian Paralympic Team suggests you also bookmark their website to catch all the news on athletes and schedules.

Will I have to stay up all night to watch?
Not this time. Australian Eastern Standard Time is only one hour ahead of Japan, which, if anything, means staying up an hour later than usual to catch the end of the evening events. Compared with the red-eye experience of Rio 2016 and London 2012, this is a proverbial breeze.

Will all the events be held in Tokyo?
No. Many venues will be the same as those used for the Olympics. Tokyo is the host city, and most events will be staged in Japan’s capital, but several sports will be held elsewhere.

When is the first Australian in action?
The much-anticipated swimming competition gets under way at 10am AEST on Wednesday with the heats in the morning and finals in the evening – the reverse of the scheduling at the Olympics. Star swimmer Ellie Cole is expected to get her first shot at a medal on the opening night. Otherwise, the women’s basketball team – the Gliders – begin their campaign against host nation Japan on the opening day, along with the women’s goalball team – against Israel – and the mixed wheelchair rugby team – against Denmark. The table tennis and fencing competitions also get under way on Wednesday, while the first gold medal of the Games will be won in track cycling with the women’s C1-3 3000m individual pursuit final at 2:52pm AEST.

Will Australia do well?
Team green and gold have finished in the top five nations at every Paralympics dating back to 1996, and at Sydney 2000 topped the medal count with 63 golds. Take from that what you will. The swim team are expected to bring home a haul, with Cole headlining at least several medal contenders. The same goes for track cycling, where defending C3 champion David Nicholas is a strong chance and Darren Hicks will make his Paralympic debut in the C2. In tennis, men’s quad singles 14-times grand slam champion Dylan Alcott will defend his Rio title. And a 36-strong athletics team, including London 2012 shot put gold medallist Todd Hodgetts and Rio 2016 100m champion Scott Reardon, is tipped for big things.

Who makes up the Australian squad?
An all-time high 285 athletes took part in the Sydney Games, but the Tokyo team of 179 is the largest contingent to contest an overseas Paralympics, surpassing the 175 who went to Rio in 2016. They will compete in 18 of the 22 sports on the 2020 program.

Which new sports have been added?
Taekwondo and badminton will replace seven-a-side football and sailing. Kyorugi (sparring) is the taekwondo discipline for para athletes developed by World Taekwondo, and in Tokyo athletes with limb impairments or an arm amputation will compete in kyorugi. Para badminton has been contested internationally since the 1990s and athletes will compete across six classes.

What are the classes and categories?
Impaired muscle power: a condition that either reduces or eliminates ability to voluntarily contract their muscles

Impaired passive range of movement: A restriction or lack of passive movement in one or more joints

Limb deficiency: a total or partial absence of bones or joints as a consequence of trauma, illness or congenital limb deficiency

Leg length difference: a difference in the length of their legs as a result of a disturbance of limb growth or as a result of trauma

Short stature: a reduced length in the bones of the arms, legs and/or trunk

Hypertonia: an increase in muscle tension and a reduced ability of a muscle to stretch caused by damage to the central nervous system.

Ataxia: uncoordinated movements caused by damage to the central nervous system

Athetosis: continual, slow involuntary movements.

Vision Impairment: athletes with a vision impairment have reduced or no vision.

Intellectual impairment: a restriction in intellectual functioning and adaptive behaviour which affects conceptual social and practical adaptive skills for everyday life. The impairment must present before the age of 18

There are also sport classes, which group athletes based on how much the impairment impacts their performance. Athletes with different impairments can often compete in the same category.