Technology at the Paralympics and #WeThe15

On the 24th of August 2021 the 16th Summer Paralympic Games will begin in Tokyo, the first city to have held the games twice since they began in 1960.

More than 4,000 athletes will compete in 540 events in 22 sports over 12 days of competition.

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games were originally scheduled to take place in 2020 but were postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and will take place in the all-too-familiar empty stadiums of the past 18 months, as Tokyo extends its lockdown into mid-September.

Technology and 'murderball'

Three Toyota accessible transport vehicles

Technology plays a significant part of the Paralympics. Off the track, Tokyo has not disappointed with its gadgetry. Self-driving Toyota e-Palette electric transport shuttles (pictured above, image courtesy of Toyota), complete with accessible features such as low floors, electric ramps and strong-contrast interior and exterior colours, transport athletes to their venues. 

Of course, on the track technology has its most influential presence from the materials and design of the blades worn by the blade runners, to the tank-like chair design of the wheelchair rugby (originally called ‘murderball’ due to the hard-hitting, full contact nature of the sport).

Technology is an enabler, a tool, it extends the use of the device to suit the athlete, not the other way round and the IPC regulations make this clear; technology must not "enhance performance beyond the natural physical ability of the athlete." This is technology levelling the playing field.


The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games also marks the launch of the #WeThe15 campaign, a campaign focussed on “…empowering and advancing the lives of people with disabilities.” 

“#WeThe15 will place persons with disabilities at the heart of the diversity and inclusion agenda,” says Andrew Parsons, President of the International Paralympic Committee.

The campaign takes its name from the 15% of the world’s population with disabilities and is focussed on breaking down the barriers between disabled and non-disabled people.

It highlights that a Paralympian is an athlete and not ‘an inspiration’, that breaking a record is an achievement to be celebrated, turning up to the event is not. It aims to highlight that disabled people also go shopping, take their kids to school, and pay their mortgages and that the difference between disabled and non-disabled can often be a split second.

You can follow and support the #WeThe15 campaign on Instagram and Twitter (@WeThe15).

Team GB

ParalympicsGB have confirmed a team of 227 atheletes, competition partners, pilots and guides, competing across 19 of the 22 Paralympic events, including entries in badminton and taekwondo, both of which make their debut at the games.

Dame Sarah Storey, Ellie Robinson, David Weir and Hannah Cockroft lead the hopes for the medals, but with strong condenders in many of the other sports, including reigning SS6 Para Badminton champion Jack Shephard and reigning Paralympic KL2 200m gold medalist, Emma Wigg it is set to be an exciting tournament. 


You can follow the Paralympics on Channel 4 and More 4 as well as having live streams available online and in true “nothing about us, without us” style, over 70% of the team of pundits and presenters are disabled. 

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