TOKYO, July 31 (Reuters) - The organisers of the Tokyo 2020 opening and closing ceremonies are adamant that the Paralympics will be on an equal footing with the Olympics as they plan consistent themes and storylines across all four ceremonies.
Hiroshi Sasaki, the man behind Tokyo 2020's startling handover performance during the closing ceremony at the Rio Games in 2016, has been tasked with designing the Paralympic ceremonies in two years' time.
The Paralympics are due to start on August 25, 2020, over two weeks after the end of the Olympics on August 9, but Sasaki is determined to orchestrate a ceremony that keeps the Paralympics firmly in the public consciousness.
"There is something I would like to avoid, which is after the Olympics people will feel things have concluded, things have finished," Sasaki told reporters on Tuesday.
"There will be much media attention after the Olympic Games - how were the Games, how many medals each country has won – but then I will once again be asking for your full support in also giving energy to the Paralympic Games."
Sasaki spoke passionately about meeting para athletes, who have helped shape his understanding of their sport, and wants to design ceremonies that will highlight how 'cool' and 'stylish' they are.
"The recognition of Para sports, which is different to that of the past, is of para sports being cool," said Sasaki.
"The key words being something cool, something stylish. This is something I would like to see. If you look at the Paralympic Games or para athletes, they are all taking on challenges, over-coming many difficulties and obstacles."
The basic plan for the ceremonies was announced on Monday, with the proposal to position all four – the opening and closing ceremonies of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games – as a single entity, with one storyline running throughout.
"We have the closing ceremony of Paralympic Games that will serve as the ending, or the conclusion, of the four-part structure – introduction, development and conclusion," explained Mansai Nomura, who will oversee all four ceremonies.
"The closing ceremony will be key in sending a message to the future.
"I think we are at a stage of transformation; that the Paralympic Games will undergo significant transformations and in two years time maybe para sports will have transformed significantly.
"That is a real possibility. In that sense, the Tokyo Games, will be a turning point." (Reporting by Jack Tarrant, editing by Nick Mulvenney)