Yanqing Paralympic Village in full preparation for athletes after 44-hour conversion
Support for physically challenged facilitated in preparation: official
Published: Feb 25, 2022 09:42 PM
An ice maker maintains the track during the break of a game at the National Sliding Centre in Yanqing District, Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 9, 2022.Photo:Xinhua

An ice maker maintains the track during the break of a game at the National Sliding Centre in Yanqing District, Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 9, 2022.Photo:Xinhua

After a 44-hour conversion, the Yanqing Winter Olympic Village on Friday completed its transition to the Winter Paralympic Village and officially opened, marking the final stage of preparations for the Paralympic Games, which will open in a week.

During the Winter Paralympic Games, the Yanqing competition zone, one of the three zones for the Games, will host the Paralympic alpine skiing events, which will produce 30 gold medals. There will be 521 athletes and other delegation members from 37 delegations staying in the Yanqing Winter Paralympic Village. As of noon Friday, 140 people have already moved in. 

Of the more than 500 delegation members staying in the Yanqing Village, 66 of them will be using wheelchairs on a daily basis and 59 are visually challenged. 

During the initial construction of the Yanqing Village, the team had already taken into account the facilitation and convenience services needed to serve the Winter Paralympic Games, which allowed the Village to complete the transition to a Winter Paralympic Village just 44 hours after the Games, Jia Qian, media manager for the Village, told the Global Times on Friday.

"When buses carrying the Winter Paralympic Games-related personnel arrive at the Village, the passengers do not have to get off the bus for security checks, but will have security personnel on board for inspection," Jia said. 

Photo: Qi Runyu

Photo: Qi Runyu

The physically challenged villagers will stay in 158 barrier-free rooms, which have widened aisles, lowered height handles, sockets, switches and help buttons, no height difference in the floor, and barrier-free sanitary and shower facilities.

In the athletes' canteen, table heights, knee space, and the layout of tables and chairs were adjusted to meet the needs of wheelchair users. Braille menus were added, as well as a service to prepare liquid meals.

Although the number of staff serving the Winter Paralympic Games is smaller than those involved in the Winter Games, totaling about 11,000, all staff members have received special training in services for the physically challenged to deal with various situations. About 36,000 volunteers will also help out.

In the competition area, an emergency protection team has been set up, stocking barrier-free equipment including wheelchairs, walking sticks, axillary crutches, and moveable ramps. Since the Yanqing zone is relatively mountainous and the weather is more volatile, competition operations personnel have prepared a number of measures to cope with possible extreme weather.

Zhu Wanfu, director of the Yanqing District Disabled Persons' Federation, told the Global Times that in preparing for the Winter Paralympics, Yanqing has also improved the facilities for the physically challenged in the district in recent years and promoted ice and snow sports for the group.

"From 2019 to 2021, Yanqing district has set up a special team in charge of this event to identify and rectify 1,982 problematic facilities for people with disabilities in public areas in the district, including sidewalk ramps and public toilet handrails," Zhu said. "A total of more than 110,000 meters of handrails were installed and 268 rubber ramps were laid in residential areas."

Zhu noted that since 2017, an average of 10,000 physically challenged residents have participated in the ice and snow fitness and recreation programs organized by the district every year. By the end of 2021, a total of 43,000 people have participated in the programs.

In addition to providing support for the physically challenged, Yanqing district also provided support for the nearly 3,000 staff members who finished their Winter Olympics service and left the closed loop and entered quarantine, including university student volunteers, vendors and support staff, Yanqing district official Yang Song said at a news conference on Friday.

"Yanqing has set up a special team to address the needs of those in quarantine, providing them with professional counseling services and delivering stress-relieving products," Yang said. "The team also provides upon request the families of these people with services such as shopping for goods, living care and academic counseling."

The Beijing Winter Paralympic Games will be held in Beijing, its Yanqing District and the neighboring Zhangjiakou in North China's Hebei Province from March 4 to March 13 under the closed-loop system like the Winter Olympics. Forty-eight delegations are qualified to participate in the Beijing Winter Paralympic Games. 

Starting March 5, some 700 athletes will compete for 78 gold medals in six major events: Paralympic Alpine Skiing, Paralympic Biathlon, Paralympic Cross-Country Skiing, Paralympic Snowboarding, Paralympic Ice Hockey and wheelchair curling.