Preparations for the Tokyo Paralympics have set off at "an unbelievable pace", according to Craig Spence, communications director for the International Paralympic Committee.
As Tokyo continues to prepare for the mega-event, ticking past 1,000 days to go on Wednesday, he says that logistical preparations are up to speed and expectations are "really high."
"I think Tokyo is probably 12 months ahead of where London was with 1,000 days to go," Spence said.
Preparations for the Paralympic and Olympic games were initially beset by a series of crises, but Spence is optimistic about the games and their potential legacy.
"There is a level of awareness for the games in Tokyo already that we have never experienced with 1,000 days to go," Spence told Kyodo News. "I think London 2012 created a blueprint for how a Paralympic Games can be organized, but at the moment Tokyo 2020 is rewriting it."
Although concerns arose earlier this year after disappointing attendance at Japan's National Paralympic Championships, Spence pointed out that similarly low numbers plagued para-sport events in Britain in the years leading up to 2012.
According to Spence, publicity campaigns in Britain involving a mixture of disabled and able-bodied public figures boosted awareness of the Paralympics, helping the event to ultimately sell over 2.7 million tickets.
In one advert, now-retired soccer star David Beckham donned a blindfold to play with Britain's blind soccer team, showing just how skilled the players were as he struggled to control the ball in comparison.
In Japan, Paralympic athletes are already the face of huge advertising campaigns for companies like Toyota Motor Corp. and Panasonic Corp. Japan's national broadcaster, NHK, recently appointed its first disabled presenters Erina Chiba and Yuki Goto to work on stories ahead of 2020.
Spence says the ostensibly underwhelming performance of the Japanese Paralympic team at the Rio Olympics in 2016 also did not help promote the event, although, as he points out, "the Japanese team actually won more medals than ever before, it's just there weren't any gold."
"A lot of British athletes said they found an extra level to their performance at London 2012 with the home crowd supporting them, and I'm sure the Japanese athletes will experience the same and perform amazing feats," he said.
One remaining logistical issue Spence highlights is the need for Japan to significantly increase the number of accessible hotel rooms. Although the Tokyo Organizing Committee has highlighted this in their accessibility plan, Spence is calling on the private sector to get on board.
"As the population grows older, the accessibility needs of that population increases. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said earlier this year that improving accessibility in Tokyo is not just about making changes for the games, it's about making changes for Tokyo and Japan's aging population."
"The games are not just a sporting event, they are a transformational event that leaves massive legacies on a sporting level and a societal level," Spence said.
He highlights societal changes in London as an example of this: "Post-games research showed one in three people in Britain changed their attitudes toward disability as a result of London 2012."
However, the legacy of the Paralympics in Britain may not be as wide-reaching as he suggests. Statistics from a leading disability charity show that in the year after the games, 81 percent of disabled people in Britain felt attitudes towards them had not improved.
According to Ian Brittain, a research fellow at Coventry University, austerity policies enacted by the government have negatively affected the lives of many disabled people in Britain since the London Olympics and Paralympics.
"A lot of governments work on the assumption that success in the Paralympic Games will give people the perception of a society that looks after everybody, but actually if you scratch under the surface that is nonsense," Brittain told Kyodo News.
While recognition and support for athletes with disabilities have improved, these positive changes have not been reflected in the daily lives of most disabled people, he says.
For the Tokyo Paralympics to leave a truly positive legacy, Brittain argues it will be absolutely essential to involve people with disabilities at all stages of preparations and specifically aim for a legacy of enhanced visibility in all areas of society.
He also says it will be vitally important not to measure all people with disabilities against Paralympic athletes, as this will only serve to "ghettoize" them even further.