There will be 16 medal-winning events in swimming on Wednesday alone, while four gold medals each are up for grabs on the bike path and in wheelchair fencing.
Speaking after qualifying for the men’s 400-meter freestyle final on Wednesday afternoon in Japan, Australian swimmer Alexander Tuckfield said stepping into the water after the long postponement felt like “ a weight lifted from my shoulders ”.
“Five years of training, training and training for this competition,” Tuckfield said.
Wheelchair basketball and goalball competitions also kicked off on Wednesday, with the China women’s basketball team beating Algeria 74-25 and the Netherlands beating the US team 68-58.
“If the world has already tagged you, now is the time to be relabeled: champion, hero, friend, colleague, role model or just human,” International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons said Tuesday evening. .
“You are the best of humanity and the only ones who can decide who and what you are. “
But not all countries attended the opening ceremony: The New Zealand Paralympic team did not participate due to concerns over the spread of Covid-19.
Japan has seen record coronavirus cases in recent months, with more than 21,000 infections and 42 deaths reported nationwide on Tuesday.
Tokyo confirmed 4,220 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of infections in August to more than 100,000 – the first time a monthly tally has reached 100,000 cases. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike last week declared the situation a “disaster-level” emergency.
According to the prime minister’s office, just over 40% of the Japanese population was fully vaccinated as of August 22.
The Japanese government is expected to decide on Wednesday to extend the state of emergency for Tokyo and 12 other regions to eight other prefectures, according to the public broadcaster NHK.
Like the Olympics, the Paralympics are held almost entirely without spectators to curb the spread of the virus. At least eight Paralympic athletes have tested positive for Covid-19 since August 12, according to the IPC, along with 33 Games-related staff.
CNN’s Tokyo-based Emiko Jozuka contributed reporting.