Team GB’s footballers have got the action in Tokyo under way, and with the opening ceremony taking place on Friday, a full fortnight of sporting action is finally upon us.
Back home, the 200-plus athletes so far selected for ParalympicsGB will be watching on, with at least one eye on how COVID protocols are working at the Olympics, and what they might be able to expect when they depart for Tokyo next month.
Here, reigning Paralympic champion and BAC ambassador, Hannah Cockroft, explains what she’ll be looking out for over the next two weeks.
“This will be a Games like no other. Of course, we will all be tuning in for the hours of sporting entertainment, stand out performances and Team GB success, but for the Paralympic athletes waiting at home for their turn on the big stage, there is a lot to be learnt from the performances of our teammates.
“I’ve been following athletes from my own sport, athletics, on social media, to get an inside look at what to expect throughout all parts of the trip.
“Currently, athletics are still in their holding camp, where they must take daily COVID tests, report their temperature every morning, are restricted to certain floors of their hotel and must eat behind Perspex screens.
“They also can only leave the hotel for training or for a guided walk outside along the same stretch of path. Although these things don’t look appealing, it gives a great idea of how much time we will have on our hands when we arrive, so we can pack and prepare accordingly to keep ourselves entertained.
“Social media has also given me a great insight into the travel over to Japan, so I’d advise Paralympians to keep watching, as we really can learn a lot (the athletics team were in the airport for over four hours before transferring to the hotel, add wheelchairs into that mix and the Paralympic teams could take even longer!).
“With COVID restricting everyone’s preparations over the last 18 months, training and simulation camps unfortunately haven’t been possible for many, but the heat and humidity in Tokyo will be something that everyone will have to live with.
“So far, I’ve seen athletes prepare with heat chamber work prior to travel and upon arrival doing their first training sessions in the evenings, so they can slowly get used to the heat. Thankfully, this wonderful spell of British weather we’re having at the moment is helping our preparations a little!
“Now that the Olympic Games are literally days away, we are on the verge of being able to tune into wall to wall sports coverage, and there will be even more to pick up on once the athletes hit the track (or court, or pitch etc).
“I will be watching to figure out wind directions and strength, weather patterns (is it more likely to rain in the evening, is it windier in the morning?) or even hopefully get an idea of the track surface before I arrive, so I can simulate it in my last weeks of training.
“Something that we are all going to notice though is the lack of fans in the stands. For some, this might be something that you’re used to, but for others, the silence of a big stadium may seem a little daunting. Use the opportunity to tune in and get an idea of how the atmosphere is going to be in your field of play.
“There is still an outside chance that crowds may be allowed at the Paralympic Games, but the more we can learn to expect when we arrive, the better prepared we will be to bring home the medals.”