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The Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2009 Asian Youth Para Games
Tokyo 2009 Asian Youth Para Games gets under way

11 Sep 2009
As it enters the final stages of the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games bidding race, Tokyo 2016 has given an enthusiastic welcome to the start of the Tokyo 2009 Asian Youth Para Games. The event sees around 500 young people with disabilities from across the continent compete over three days of elite competition Japan's dynamic capital city.

Under the slogan 'Your Dreams, Our Legacy', the Tokyo 2009 Asian Youth Para Games is giving inspiring young athletes between the ages of 14 and 19 the opportunity to compete in iconic venues, engage with international peers and contribute to strengthened bonds between Asian nations and the growth of the Paralympic Movement. These aims and values are shared by Tokyo 2016, which is setting the stage for heroes with the most compact, sustainable and athlete-friendly Olympic and Paralympic Games plan in history.

The event once again affirms Tokyo's credentials in staging major international competitions as the city bids for the world's greatest multi-sport events in 2016. The Tokyo 2016 Games vision has been developed from its earliest stages in collaboration with top Olympic and Paralympic athletes. A 10-year plan to transform Tokyo into a universally-accessible showcase of a 21st Century city is also taking place up to 2016, ensuring an enduring social and sporting legacy for people living with disabilities.

Competition during the 2009 Asian Youth Para Games will take place at four world-class venues proposed for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games: Kasumigaoka National Stadium, Yoyogi National Gymnasium, Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Centre and Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

Isao Hokugo, President of the Japan Paralympic Committee and President of Tokyo 2009 Asian Youth Para Games Organising Committee, said:

"It is fantastic to see some of the most inspiring young athletes in the world showcasing their talent and dedication in the heart of our dynamic capital city. As anyone here for the Asian Youth Para Games will agree, Tokyo is a spectacular setting for top sporting competition and is also a leading global city in accessibility for people with disabilities. This is ensuring a memorable Asian Youth Para Games, and will also help to create an inspirational Games in 2016 with an incredible Paralympic legacy."

Dr Ichiro Kono, CEO and Chair of Tokyo 2016, said:

"We are delighted to be supporting the Tokyo 2009 Asia Youth Para Games Organising Committee as they host an event which will inspire sports enthusiasts and people with disabilities everywhere.

"Tokyo 2016 will be an ultra-compact, barrier-free Olympic and Paralympic Games in the heart of what is already one of the world's most accessible cities. Our plan is born out of Tokyo's proud history of involvement with the Paralympic Games, going back to 1964 when Tokyo became the first city to host disability sporting events beyond those for athletes in wheelchairs. We are building on this legacy for the long-term benefit of the Olympic Movement, and for disability sport and social progress throughout the world."

Tokyo 2016 will bring a uniquely convenient experience to athletes, visitors and officials with disabilities through an innovative plan that places the Paralympic Village, IBC/MPC media facilities, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) hotels and almost all competition venues within an 8km radius of the Olympic Stadium in the heart of the city. 75% of Paralympians' accommodation will additionally be less than 10 minutes travel time from their respective competition venues, helping to ensure memorable performances through maximising time for training and rest.

Through an innovative programme of youth outreach leading up to the Games, Tokyo 2016 is also working to inspire young people across the world to engage with sport and healthy living.

During the opening ceremony yesterday, Japan Crown Prince Naruhito made a keynote speech that celebrated the u
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