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Disabled get better access to sports

By CHENG SI | China Daily | Updated: 2022-03-10 10:27
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The National Aquatics Centre, aka the Ice Cube, is quickly adapted to the needs of Winter Paralympic Games participants following the completion of the Winter Olympics late last month. Organizers say the barrier-free facilities at these venues will continue to benefit persons with disabilities well beyond the Games. [Photo/Xinhua]

Disabled people now have easier access to sporting events thanks to government efforts to improve barrier-free facilities in the past few years and people's increasing acceptance of those with disabilities.

A report released this month by the China Disabled Persons' Federation and Social Sciences Academic Press said that by the end of 2020, the nation had channeled around 19.6 billion yuan ($3.1 billion) into building 2,318 comprehensive facilities where people with disabilities can get services such as guidance on rehabilitation, hearing and speech training, and sports and entertainment.

The disabled also have more places for exercise because of campaigns launched since 2011. The report said that by the end of 2020, there were 13,313 exercise locations built for the disabled.

"Letting people with disabilities join sporting events is not only a medical way to promote their physical recovery, but an encouragement for them to pursue social rights," said Wen An, one of the authors of the report from Xi'an Technological University. "Disabled people can also enjoy sports and get happiness, honors and passion from exercise and sports."

He said that the public is increasingly accepting of disabled people joining sports.

"The disabled can join any of the sports events with their abilities and interests like other people, and even bravely compete in some games," Wen said.

"They may have problems in some physical functions like hearing or visual impairment, but they are healthy in other physical aspects like ordinary people."

More disabled people have participated in cultural and sports events in the past few years. A white book released by the State Council Information Office on March 3 showed that 23.9 percent of the 85 million disabled people in China took part in sports events last year, up from 6.8 percent in 2015.

The nation also trained about 125,000 instructors by 2020 to give professional guidance to the disabled in exercise and sports.

"We do have the wish and desire to get out of our homes to exercise despite having physical disabilities," said Wang Yadong, secretary-general of Hangzhou's association for those with limb disabilities, who lost his right leg in a work accident in 1996. "The biggest problem is the mental burden as we are self-conscious due to physical problems."

He said that he got his hopes up in 2002 when Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, was recruiting athletes for the disabled games. He then took part in many sports, including swimming and a wheelchair marathon.

"A marathon is one of the sporting events that we disabled can join with ordinary people," he said. "I've encouraged many of my peers to join and we get encouragement and respect from the public. Sport lifts our psychological burdens and we can embrace life bravely."

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