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2022 Paralympics to push equal access

By Sun Xiaochen | China Daily | Updated: 2016-01-26 08:08

Beijing to integrate facilities for Winter Games to benefit athletes and visitors with disabilities

With the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games to be held in Beijing in six years, the Chinese government has pledged to improve the barrier-free environment to benefit the lives of the disabled.

To prepare for the winter sports extravaganza for athletes with impairments in 2022, Beijing will build 100,000 more accessible facilities and train 100,000 fitness instructors for the disabled while launching a series of Paralympic education programs in the next six years, the organizing committee said on Monday at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games orientation seminar.

"To live up to our commitment to the world that the two Games will be equally splendid, we need to integrate the design and building of facilities as well as training of event staff for the Paralympics in the general planning of the Olympics from the very beginning," said Zhang Jiandong executive vice-president of the Beijing 2022 organizing committee.

Beijing, along with co-host city Zhangjiakou in Hebei province, won the right last July to host the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

At the seminar on Monday, the International Paralympic Committee sent an eight-member delegation led by committee CEO Xavier Gonzalez to discuss preparatory issues, including sports programs, accessibility and broadcasting and marketing of the 2022 event with local organizers.

The 2022 Paralympic Winter Games will run from March 4 to March 13 with athletes competing in six sports - alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey and para-snowboard as well as wheelchair curling - at the same venues as the Olympics after refurbishment to cater to the physical needs of disabled athletes.

Advanced barrier-free facilities will be upgraded at competition venues, the public transportation system, accommodation sites and communities in Beijing and Hebei province, satisfying not only the needs of the Games but also benefiting residents and tourists with disabilities.

Having witnessed the Beijing 2008 Paralympics help promote equity, dignity and inclusion among the disabled in China, Gonzalez said the International Paralympic Committee expects more from Beijing this time around.

"In the same way that Beijing 2008 raised the standard for all summer Games eight years ago, we want Beijing 2022 to take the Winter Games to new heights," he said.

"I've seen clearly the change after 2008, which made a big difference. It was a huge commitment from the Chinese government. Then we saw Chinese society really embracing people with impairments. It will happen with another Games to continue the push in doing that," he said.

Wang Meng, a female wheelchair curler, hopes more of the country's 85 million disabled will join her to embrace new life through sports.

"Through sports participation, I realized my personal value in a way that I can't through other activities. People with disabilities can compete equally as other people do and earn respect from society. I am looking forward to seeing that happen again," she said.

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