Did you know that the Paralympic Games and their rules are distinct compared to traditional sports? The Paralympic Games (or Paralympics) is a periodic series of international multi-sport events involving athletes with a range of disabilities, including impaired muscle power, impaired passive range of movement, limb deficiency leg length difference, short stature, hypertonia, ataxia, athetosis, vision impairment and intellectual impairment. Some of the renowned sports in the Games have special rules which may be very entertaining to watch. Without further ado, these are the 5 must-watch sports in the Tokyo Paralympics.
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Have you ever played football blindfolded? 5-a-side football is played by athletes with a vision impairment using a ball with a noise-making device inside; the sport offers skill and drama in equal measures. Each team consists of four outfield players and one goalkeeper who can be fully sighted or partially sighted. To keep players safe, they must say “voy” or a similar word when moving towards an opponent, tackling or searching for the ball.
Boccia was born in Ancient Greece that involved players throwing large stones at a small target. It was initially designed for people with cerebral palsy. Now, it’s played by athletes who have any neurological impairment that affects their motor functions. Boccia is a game of high strategy, where a single shot can reverse fortunes. First, a white target ball called the ‘jack’ is thrown, followed by the throwing or rolling of six red and six blue balls by each player, called an ‘end’. At the close of each end, the player or team whose ball is closest to the jack scores one point. They receive an additional point for every ball that sits closer to the jack than the opposition’s closest ball.
Judo has been a Paralympic sport since 1988 in Seoul. Although competitors are given classifications based on the severity of their visual impairment, they are divided by weight rather than the degree of impairment. The objective of judo is to throw or takedown an opponent to the ground, subdue them with a pinning hold, or force them to submit with a joint lock or choke. The rules are almost identical to Olympic Judo, but one significant difference is that the judoka must grip their opponent’s sleeve and lapel and hold still before a match can start.
Goalball is played by two teams of three people. The objective is to score by rolling the ball at high speed into the opposition’s goal, while the other team attempts to block the ball with their bodies. After a ball is thrown, the defending players have 10 seconds to throw the ball back after one of them touches it. The ball is made of hard rubber and has holes in it that allow bells inside to be heard as the ball moves. The essence of the sport is the minimum level of noise in the venue when the game is being played. Overall, goalball delivers a new sense of entertainment for the viewers.
Para Swimming is the most popular event in the Paralympics. Paralympic swimmers in Tokyo Paralympics 2020 will compete in freestyle, backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke and medley events. Athletes are grouped according to their functional ability to perform each stroke in a process known as classification.To ensure the safety of the athletes who are visually impaired, they’re required to have an assistant, known as the tapper who helps them as they approach turns or the end of the race. This process is called ‘tapping’ in which the assistant taps the athlete’s head or body with a tapping device.