Paralympics: IPC says Tokyo 2020 to be most successful ever

International Paralympic committee CEO Xavier Gonzalez (left) shakes hands with Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games CEO Toshiro Muto (right) in Tokyo on Dec 16, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
International Paralympic committee CEO Xavier Gonzalez (left) shakes hands with Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games CEO Toshiro Muto (right) in Tokyo on Dec 16, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Tokyo Olympic bosses appear set to deliver the most successful Paralympics ever in 2020, a senior International Paralympic Committee (IPC) official said on Tuesday, despite pressure to slash costs for the Games overall.

The city will become the first to host the Paralympics twice after staging the 1964 Games.

IPC chief executive officer Xavier Gonzalez said Tokyo's vision and advanced preparation would help the Paralympic movement build on the progress made at the London Olympics in 2012, when the Paralympics attracted a record 2.7 million spectators.

"Tokyo will be staging the Paralympic Games for a second time, which makes it unique," the Spaniard told reporters after a two-day project review meeting.

"But also the modernity and innovation of Japan will help the Paralympics reach the whole world. London opened the door and showcased the potential of the Games. Tokyo provides the opportunity to bring the Paralympics to the entire world."

Gonzalez pointed to a sponsorship tie-up agreed with Japanese electronics giant Panasonic in October through to the Tokyo Paralympics as evidence of the potential for commercial success in 2020.

"It shows that from a commercial point of view Tokyo 2020 can be the most successful Paralympics ever, building on what was achieved in London," he said.

The Tokyo Paralympics is planning to stage 23 sports - three more than London - with seven yet to be decided.

Gonzalez acknowledged that obstacles still remain after the International Olympic Committee earlier this month passed sweeping reforms allowing the Games to be staged in two cities, or even countries, in a push to make the world's biggest sporting event more cost-efficient.

"Some of the decisions brought in by (the IOC's) Agenda 2020 will have an impact on the Paralympic Games," said Gonzalez. "I look forward to seeing how exactly they are implemented but diversification is always an opportunity for new options."

Tokyo is looking to reduce the price tag for the 2020 Olympics by US$1.7 billion (S$2.2 billion) by scrapping or scaling back plans to build new facilities.

Estimates have put the bill for the venues, including the construction of 10 new facilities, at 450 billion yen (S$5 billion) - three times the initial budget. This has triggering renewed belt-tightening measures and calls to use existing venues as far away as Osaka.

"No final decision has been taken as it's evident some venues have yet to be decided," said Gonzalez. "But overall the non-construction of facilities is not going to have an overall effect on the Paralympics because we will find alternatives."

Tokyo became the first Asian host of the Blind Football World Championships last month. It was watched by paying fans in what Tokyo 2020 organising committee CEO Toshiro Muto said "demonstrates the high level of interest for Paralympic sport in Japan".

Gonzalez added: "The level of detail and advanced plans presented by Tokyo at six years out is at the level of what we are used to talking about four years prior."