Tokyo 2020: Japan’s blind football debut
Date: August 22, 2021
Japan will make their blind football debut at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, where they will be vying for a medal against the world’s best teams.
The East Asian national team earned the right to automatic football 5-a-side qualification following Tokyo’s successful bid for the Olympics and Paralympics in 2013.
But the hosts are not just making-up the numbers.
Ranked 12th in the world, Japan claimed a silver medal at the 2021 Santen IBSA Blind Football World Grand Prix in June this year. The competition featured five of the eight qualified teams for the Paralympics, so Japan’s performance was encouraging.
The Tokyo 2020 hosts finished second in the group stage to qualify for the final, defeating France and Thailand 1-0 and drawing to Spain 1-1 and Argentina 0-0. Japan narrowly lost to Argentina 2-0 in the final but will be content with collecting silver in addition to Akihito Tanaka winning the Tanaka Great Effort Award and Robert Izumi Sasaki winning the most impressive player award.
At the 2019 IBSA Blind Football Asian Championships, Japan won bronze after defeating Thailand 2-1 to attain their fifth Asian Championship medal. They took China to penalties in the semi-final, narrowly missing on a place in the final as the eventual Asian champions took the win.
At Tokyo 2020 Japan is in Group A with China, European silver medallists France and reigning Paralympic champions Brazil.
Japan will look to their captain Ryo Kawamura’s deft dribbling ability and Roberto Izumi Sasaki’s defensive strength to lead the team to a historic medal.
They will place the opening match of the football 5-a-side competition against France on 29 August at 9am JST.
Live coverage of blind football is available by clicking here, and on IBSA Blind Football’s social media.
By Keon Richardson | For IBSA Blind Football