Sports-minded disabled to get assist from govt

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Inside the Nippon Foundation Para Arena, a facility set up for Paralympic athletes struggling to find places to regularly train, is seen in Tokyo in August 2018.

The Sports Agency has decided to spruce up training facilities so people with disabilities can work out easily at public gymnasiums and other locations nationwide, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The agency plans to dole out subsidies so Paralympic sports organizations and local governments can make improvements such as obtaining equipment and renovating facilities. It has earmarked about ¥2.4 billion in the fiscal 2021 supplementary budget proposal.

By taking advantage of the lingering popularity of sports following this summer’s Tokyo Paralympics, the government plans to expand the number of locations that can serve as easily accessible regular training places for many. Officials aim to encourage the disabled, especially those concerned about a lack of exercise amid the COVID-19 pandemic, to become more active in sports.

The government plans to finance the purchase of equipment for projects to promote exercise through the Japanese Para-Sports Association. It will also contribute one-third of the cost when local governments set up facilities.

According to a survey of athletes participating at this year’s Tokyo Games and the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympics conducted by the Paralympians Association of Japan from July to August, 21.3% of the athletes — most of whom were wheelchair users — said they had been denied access to facilities or had to follow certain conditions to use them.

While wheelchairs these days are much improved to prevent scratches and marks on flooring, there are still cases in which wheelchair users are refused access to facilities that are concerned about damage.