Live updates of all the action from the opening day at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Kiwis in action today
12pm – Para-swimming – Jesse Reynolds – Men’s 400m Freestyle – S9 heats
1pm – Para cycling-track – Sarah Ellington – Women’s C1-3 3000m Individual Pursuit qualifying
1.56pm – Para cycling-track – Anna Taylor – Women’s C4 3000m Individual Pursuit qualifying
2.17pm – Para cycling-track – Nicole Murray – Women’s C5 3000m Individual Pursuit qualifying
2.30pm – Wheelchair rugby – Wheel Blacks – Pool Phase Group B v USA
11.20am: Busy day ahead for Kiwi athletes
Swimmer Jesse Reynolds is the first New Zealander to compete at the Tokyo Paralympics, in theMen’s 400m Freestyle – S9 heats at midday. Then it’s a busy schedule at the velodrome with Sarah Ellington, Anna Taylor andNicole Murray in their respective Individual Pursuit qualifying. The Wheel Blacks open their campaign after missing the last two Paralympics with a clash against Great Britain. The first chance for a medal could come in the cycling just before 5pm.
10.45am: Some fans allowed
The Paralympics are being held without fans, although organisers are planning to let some school children attend, going against the advice of much of the medical community.
International Paralympic Committee President AndrewParsons and Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the Tokyo organising committee, say the Paralympics can be held safely. Both have tried to distance the Paralympics and Olympics from Tokyo’s rising infection rate.
“For the moment we don’t see the correlation between having the Paralympics in Tokyo with the rising number of cases in Tokyo and Japan,” Parsons told The Associated Press.
Some medical experts say even if there is no direct link, the presence of the Olympics and Paralympics promoted a false sense of security and prompted people to let down their guard, which may have helped spread the virus.
10am: The Games are open, first positive Covid test
The Paralympics began last night in the same empty National Stadium — during the same pandemic — as the opening and closing ceremonies of the recently completed Tokyo Olympics.
Japanese Emperor Naruhito got it all started again, this time under the theme “We Have Wings.” Among the few on hand were Douglas Emhoff, husband of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons and International Olympic President Thomas Bach.
The New Zealand team did not attend for safety reasons with Sophie Pascoe and William Stedman named as Hāpai Kara instead of flagbearers.
It was a circus-like opening with acrobats, clowns, vibrant music and fireworks atop the stadium to mark the start of the long parade of athletes.
Tokyo and Paralympic organisers are under pressure from soaring new infections in the capital. About 40% of the Japanese population is fully vaccinated. But daily new cases in Tokyo have increased four to five times since the Olympics opened on July 23. Tokyo is under a state of emergency until Sept. 12, with the Paralympics ending Sept. 5.
Organisers on Tuesday also announced the first positive test for an athlete living in the Paralympic Village. They gave no name or details and said the athlete had been isolated.
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