Boccia, a combination of chess, snooker and bowls sounds remarkably simple. Throw one or more of six colored balls closer to a white target ball, or jack, than your opponent. But this game needs more strategy, precision, steely nerves — and a little luck to play.
Dating back to Ancient Greece and Egypt, it is thought to be one of the oldest sports played by humans. But this game is not played by old men on dusty Italian or French town squares, this is gripping — and addictive to watch.
Designed so athletes with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy or any kind of neurological impairment that impacts motor function can take part, boccia has been part of the Paralympics since 1984.
Players in wheelchairs use throws from hands, feet or helped by assistive devices such as ramps and pointers, to deliver the leather balls which are filled with plastic granules so they do not bounce and are easy to grip.
Leading Canadian player Julian Ciobanu, who has muscular dystrophy, compares it to another sport.
"It's like archery. But you are shooting with your hand or foot," he said on Sunday after winning his second consecutive pool match in the BC4 class at the Ariake Gymnasium in Tokyo.
Meanwhile, it can be seen that some boccia players have severe physical impairments, and Ciobanu. "It's incredibly impressive when you see these people with their physical limits," he said.
"It's a precise sport. It's a sport that involves a lot of passion, a lot of concentration and a lot of strategy, like a game of chess. You need to play with a lot of confidence and always think two or three bowls ahead," he added.
Individual medals in the four classes of competition, which are all open for men and women, will be decided in finals on Wednesday, followed by pairs and team competitions which conclude on Saturday.