Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Excitement ahead of the 2021 Paralympics

Johannes Floors at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.

Ottobock well-prepared for challenges of the Tokyo Summer Games

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has confirmed the dates for the Paralympic Summer Games, however subject to significant conditions for all participants. The Corona pandemic led to the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics for a whole year. Never before have preparations for this international para sports event been so challenging – and this is also true for medical technology company Ottobock.

Tokyo – Six months to go

To ensure that the Paralympics can take place from 24 August through 5 September 2021, the local Tokyo 2020 organising committee has issued so-called “playbooks” for individual groups of persons. These playbooks describe measures for protection against infection with the Sars CoV-2 virus, which all participants must closely observe. As an official Technical Service Partner, Ottobock received its own playbook. This is the 16th time the company will attend the Paralympics with its state-of-the-art orthopaedic workshops. Experienced orthopaedic technicians, wheelchair specialists and welders will repair the Paralympic athlete’s devices to the highest professional standards.

Despite the restrictions applying to this year’s Summer Games, the Tokyo team at Ottobock is full of excitement ahead of the event. “We are all tremendously looking forward to the Games. It's an important task to provide athletes with our free technical service to enable them to focus completely on their performance at the Games. Everybody is putting their heart into it, despite the current situation,” says Peter Franzel, Head of Global Events, Exhibitions & Sports at Ottobock. 4,400 athletes will be subjecting their wheelchairs, orthoses, prostheses and other devices to extreme stress. Without free repairs and spare parts from the Ottobock service team, problems could mean the end of an athletes' further participation.

Ottobock service team well-versed in high hygiene standards

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, our technicians have been well trained in safe behaviour while interacting with users and within the team. Their experience in patient care will help us in the Ottobock Workshops in Tokyo. Special hygiene measures had been a matter of daily attention for us even before Corona. So the rules described in the playbooks are not new for us. In addition, we will be installing ten Callstair 300 air cleaners, which will ensure the air in the workshops is almost completely virus-free,” says Peter Franzel. “The well-being of athletes and of our team members is our top priority. We are providing the entire Ottobock team with continuous daily updates on rules regarding travel to Tokyo, transportation within the city and local contact restrictions.”

An Allen key on tour

To show the world their enthusiasm about being able to attend in Tokyo, Ottobock service technicians will be sending a custom-made larger-than-life Allen key around the globe. Six months before the Paralympics, Tokyo workshop-head Julian Napp will send if from the Ottobock Headquarters in Duderstadt, Germany, to 13 other technicians in 12 countries, one after the other. They will photograph the Allen key, post about their personal passion for the Paralympics on social media, and then send it onwards. “This rendition of our favourite tool as orthopaedic technicians will make stops at a total of fourteen stations. This activity will help us pass the long wait and should also build excitement about Tokyo,” says Julian Napp. “This way, we can extend a symbolic welcome to our team members until we greet them warmly in person in our workshop in Tokyo, the Allen key's last stop.”

About a hundred Ottobock technicians will be travelling to the Paralympics to provide technical support. They are experienced men and women from a variety of countries who applied long in advance for this special mission. Besides the technical crew, 30 more Ottobock staff members from communications, marketing, event organisation and administration will be flying to Tokyo.

Commitment for top-ranking sports

Ottobock promotes high-performance athletes all over the world. Many of the close to 40 international Ottobock ambassadors hold a world record. They share the company's passion for Paralympic sports and join Ottobock in encouraging handicapped individuals to practise sports and lead an active lifestyle. In their countries and beyond, they are role models for all of society, not just for individuals with a disability.

Many Ottobock ambassadors will be competing in Tokyo and can hardly wait for their personal dream to come true. One of them is sprinter Johannes Floors: “Our entire planning concerning training and competitions focused on the 2020 Paralympic Games. Naturally, the cancellation was very hard for us. But we cannot influence the current situation and the conditions it brings about, so I try to make the best of it. We have adjusted all preparations accordingly, and another year of preparing for Tokyo will hopefully only make me faster,” smiles the Para World Champion and world record holder in the 100 and 400 metres. “I can't wait to finally be in the stadium, at the start line for the 400 metres. Racing and winning the gold medal in Tokyo are the goal and my big dream.”

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Gaby Travers

PR Manager