What you need to know – The excitement of New Zealand’s incredibly successful Olympic campaign may be over, but the sporting competition will continue for weeks to come.
Thousands of Paralympic athletes are ready to descend on the Japanese capital of Tokyo to compete on the world stage.
How many athletes will New Zealand send, who are our big medal contenders, and where can we see the coverage? RNZ is here to clarify everything.
What are the Paralympic Games?
The Paralympic Games are the largest international event for disabled athletes. It takes place shortly after each Olympic Games in the same host city. The Paralympic Games are held every two years, alternating between the summer and winter Paralympic Games.
Paralympic athletes have a different governing body than that which governs Olympic athletes. While Olympians have the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Paralympians have the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
The Tokyo Games will feature up to 4,400 Para athletes in 22 Para sports, and badminton and taekwondo will make their debut at the Paralympic Games.
When do the Paralympic Games start?
The Paralympic Games begin on Tuesday, August 24, with the opening ceremony declaring the official start of the games.
Starting at 8pm (local time), the opening ceremony will be available for viewing at 11pm in New Zealand, thanks to the three-hour time difference.
The sporting events will begin the following day and will continue until Sunday, September 5.
A record number of broadcasters will broadcast 21 disciplines from 19 sports live, six more than Rio 2016. This means that Tokyo 2020 is expected to exceed the cumulative audience of 4.1 billion that watched the 2016 Games.
How can I watch the Paralympic Games?
TVNZ and Attitude are providing coverage of the Paralympic Games.
The two media organizations are the official media partners of the New Zealand Paralympics (PNZ). TVNZ and Attitude Pictures collaborated on the coverage of Rio 2016, broadcasting to 2.2 million viewers and the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Paralympic Games broadcasting to 1.8 million viewers.
New Zealand Paralympics says there has always been great interest in Paralympic athletes in New Zealand, but support from home will be stronger this year, given Covid-19 travel restrictions.
“With no family, friends or fans traveling to Tokyo to watch the Paralympic Games, there will be unprecedented interest in television coverage of Tokyo 2020,” he says.
You can watch all the action every day on TVNZ DUKE (Freeview Channel 13 and Sky Channel 23). A 30-minute highlights program will air at 9 am on TVNZ1. Coverage will also be streamed live on TVNZ OnDemand, with up-to-date viewing of selected events available on the platform. 1 NEWS will support live streaming with coverage through daily news programming and 1news.co.nz.
Attitude.Live also features documentaries that follow New Zealand Para athletes in preparation for the games.
How many kiwis go and who to take care of?
New Zealand has a stellar record at the Paralympic Games, having won 220 medals in total: 90 gold, 63 silver and 67 bronze.
This time, New Zealand will send 29 Para athletes and 37 support personnel to Tokyo, hoping to increase the medal table. Kiwis will compete in the following events:
For cycling-track, Wednesday, August 25 to Saturday, August 28
Sarah Ellington, Nicole Murray, Rory Mead and Anna Taylor will compete in the track events.
This is considered a strong team, despite the fact that all four Paralympic athletes are debutants at the Paralympic Games. Sarah Ellington started international paracycling in 2017 and has so far won three World Championship medals in track and road events.
For road cycling, Tuesday, August 31 to Friday, September 3
Stephen Hills, Eltje Malzbender and Sarah Ellington compete in road events.
Stephen Hills is competing in his second Paralympic Games after debuting in 2016. He will be joined on the track by Ellington and another rookie, Eltje Malzbender.
For swimming, Wednesday, August 25 to Friday, September 3
Sophie Pascoe, Nikita Howarth, Tupou Neiufi and Jesse Reynolds will be competing.
The New Zealand Para athletes are expected to perform strongly here. The country’s most decorated Paralympian, Sophie Pascoe, will lead the search for medals.
Pascoe already has 15 Paralympic medals to his name and hopes to add to that collection in Tokyo. Nikita Howarth supports her, competing in her third Paralympic Games after becoming New Zealand’s youngest Paralympic athlete at the London 2012 Games at the age of 13.
Pascoe and Howarth will be joined in the group by Tupou Neiufi and Jesse Reynolds, both competing in their second Paralympic Games.
For athletics, shot put, Friday, August 27 – Sunday, September 5
Lisa Adams, Caitlin Dore and Ben Tuimaseve will be competing.
This shot put team is a powerhouse of competitors.
Lisa Adams is making her Paralympic debut and is coached by her sister, two-time Olympic gold medalist Dame Valerie Adams. He has already broken the world record for shot put four times since he started competing in 2018.
Caitlin Dore is making her second appearance at the Paralympic Games. In the men’s competition, Ben Tuimaseve will make his Paralympic debut.
Shooting for sport, from Monday, August 30 to Sunday, September 5
Michael Johnson is competing.
Four-time Paralympian Michael Johnson will become the second New Zealand Paralympian to represent his country at five Paralympic Games. He will be looking to build on his impressive medal table, which includes back-to-back gold and bronze medals in 2008 and 2012.
Wheelchair Rugby, Wednesday August 25 to Sunday August 29
The Wheel Blacks will be competing, and the team consists of Hayden Barton-Cootes, Cody Everson, Robert Hewitt, Tainafi Lefono, Gareth Lynch, Gavin Rolton and Mike Todd.
The seven Para athletes will make their Paralympic debut. They will hope to repeat the success at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, when the New Zealand team took gold. Before that, the Wheel Blacks also collected two bronze medals in 1996 and 2000. Their biggest rivals will likely be Australia.