CHINA / SOCIETY
Beijing 2022 Paralympics hits 100-day countdown
Barrier-free facilities established, renovated for athletes and residents
Published: Nov 24, 2021 09:43 PM Updated: Nov 24, 2021 05:43 PM
A roller skater passes a sculpture at the Olympic Green in Beijing on November 24, 2021. The central section of the park will be closed to visitors from November 25, 2021 to March, 20, 2022 as it will host the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games. Photo: VCG

A roller skater passes a sculpture at the Olympic Green in Beijing on November 24, 2021. The central section of the park will be closed to visitors from November 25, 2021 to March, 20, 2022 as it will host the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games. Photo: VCG



Wednesday marked the 100-day countdown to the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games, with eight venues proceeding with their final tests for the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games and barrier-free facilities being specially addressed. 

The Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics Organizing Committee released a service guidebook for the physically challenged on Wednesday night at the 100-day countdown event in the "Ice Cube," one of the Olympic venues.

This handbook explains the etiquette and communication skills that should be given special attention during the Paralympic Games, according to the special needs of this group.

More than 2,400 physically challenged people signed up to provide volunteer services, and 19 of them aged from 19 to 63 will join the volunteer team and provide services in 18 venues, according to the Organizing Committee. 

The Organizing Committee also noted that the construction and renovation of barrier-free facilities have entered the final stage of testing. 

"The barrier-free flow of the eight competition venues and two Winter Olympic villages is clear and smooth, and the number and proportion of barrier-free elevators, toilets, bedrooms, locker rooms, ramps and seats have met the requirements for the event," said an official in charge of the barrier-free facilities.

The 2021 World Wheelchair Curling Championships held in the "Ice Cube" last month gave the venue's barrier-free facilities and services a full test, Yang Qiyong, general manager of the venue, told the Global Times. 

Zigzag barrier-free passages, barrier-free seats and bathrooms, and the unique container-type changing rooms have left a deep impression on athletes from different countries, Yang said. 

"The barrier-free facilities are still being improved and perfected in detail," Yang added. 

The Beijing Winter Paralympic Village also underwent a full element test last week, and one of the scenarios was to test the flow of transporting Paralympic athletes, including the accessibility of connecting facilities, Li Bin, operator of the Beijing Winter Paralympic Village, told the Global Times. 

Nearly 100 shuttle vehicles will serve athletes in the village during the tournament, 40 of which will be welfare vehicles, or accessible vehicles with the seats removed. The transportation station has set up a barrier-free ramp to facilitate athletes in wheelchairs to board.

In addition to the venues, a total of 9,791 public places have been renovated within one kilometer of the Olympic-related venues. The medical, accommodation, tourism and transportation aspects of the Winter Olympics services have been fully optimized, and "soft" services have been fully covered.

Efficient and barrier-free medical services will also be provided to the Paralympic athletes.

"We have built a closed-loop, integrated medical treatment system from the race course to the medical station, to ambulances, helicopters and then to the designated hospitals, solving the problem of remote medical services on the way to an emergency transfer, providing fast, high-quality, high-efficiency treatment for injured athletes," said Li Congmin, a deputy head of the Hebei Provincial Department of Science and Technology.

Being the first and only city in the world to host both the Summer Paralympics and Winter Paralympics, aside from upgrading the venues, Beijing also took the opportunity to establish more barrier-free facilities for its residents. 

To address the issue of wheelchair accessibility, 12,000 buses in the city were upgraded to "barrier-free vehicles," with 1,200 bus stops renovated and more than 500 barrier-free cabs deployed. 

Over the past three years, the capital city has renovated 24,000 small street-level stores. Now there are basically no stairs to climb from the sidewalks to the stores, and the integrated ramps create barrier-free access to a row of stores.

In the past few years, as a warm-up for the Beijing Winter Paralympics, winter sports series for physically challenged people have been held all over China, and activities such as the winter Paralympic project experience and winter Paralympic cultural exhibition have been carried out to allow more physically challenged people to participate in winter sports.

"The Paralympics is not just a sporting competition, but more importantly a humanistic symbol that reflects how a country cares for and helps people with disabilities," Yang Jinkui, head of the Paralympic Department of the Beijing Winter Olympic Organizing Committee, said.

While China made dazzling achievements at the Summer Paralympics, it was relatively weak in Paralympic ice sports until the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Paralympics, when the men's curling team won the country's first-ever Winter Paralympic gold medal.

The Chinese Paralympic ice hockey, curling and snowboarding teams are actively practicing for the competition in Beijing, preparing for a breakthrough in the upcoming event. 

Foreign Paralympic sports teams are also actively preparing for the competition and are likely to come to Beijing in the near future, the Global Times learned.

The Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics will take place from March 4 to 13, 2022, following the Winter Olympics in Beijing, its Yanqing district and neighboring Zhangjiakou city in North China's Hebei Province. 

About 600 of the world's best Paralympic athletes will compete in 78 different events across six sports, reports said.


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