Showing Everyone How Enjoyable Para-sports Can Be
At Mitsubishi Electric, we’ve been long-time supporters of teams and athletes competing in sports such as basketball, tennis and badminton. And as part of our efforts to foster a more diverse and inclusive society in Japan, we also sponsor the Japanese Para-Sports Association (JPSA) and Japan Wheelchair Basketball Federation (JWBF). To promote the appeal of wheelchair basketball and other para-sports, we’re taking an original, hands-on approach.
Thousands Attend Tokyo Event to Witness Drama of Para-sports
Wheelchair basketball is fast-paced and hard-hitting, but many have yet to experience this exciting sport firsthand. With the cooperation of various groups and organizations, we kicked off our "Going Up Campaign" in October 2016 to help people learn about and participate in wheelchair basketball and other para-sports. We set high goals for this campaign: we aim to hold Going Up events in all of Japan’s 47 prefectures.
When the tour made its way to Tokyo on the weekend of April 29-30, 2018, more than 5,000 people showed up to experience and witness the drama. At the venue in Hibiya Park, an oasis of greenery in the heart of Tokyo, people got to try wheelchair basketball and other sports, including wheelchair rugby, boccia and goalball.
"I’m Happy I Got a Chance to Actually Play the Game"
As they tried it for the very first time, wheelchair basketball defied the expectations of participants. A man in his 30s expressed surprise at discovering that the wheelchair design used in the sport is completely different from those of conventional wheelchairs. He said, "I learned for the first time that the wheels are angled outward. I’ve played basketball before, but it was refreshing to move my body in a totally new way." A woman in her 20s also found taking shots to be particularly challenging. "The wheelchair tipped backward when I took shots, so it was really hard to score," she said.
Children had a lot of fun playing wheelchair basketball, too. An elementary schoolgirl said, "I saw it on TV before, but I’m happy I got a chance to actually play the game." Parents were also pleased. "I hope companies keep supporting events like these because it’s fun for the kids and good for their education, too," a mother said.
Athletes Inspiring People by Teaching Them About Para-sports
Para-sports athletes also found the Going Up event in Tokyo to be worthwhile. Shunya Nakamachi, a player for the Tohoku Stormers wheelchair rugby team, commented, "While the rough tackling in the sport gets a lot of attention, I think participants could see that winning also requires close-knit teamwork and strategy."
The Tokyo event was just one of many tour stops for our Going Up Campaign. All across Japan, we’re holding clinics at elementary schools and other venues to promote para-sports and inclusion. And we’re also holding Going Up seminars for our employees to increase their diversity awareness and respect for human rights.
The strength and sportsmanship of para-sports athletes is serving as an inspiration for all of us. As part of our commitment to promote good health and well-being for all, we’ll continue to actively support para-sports.