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Beijing Winter Paralympics expedite creation of barrier-free cities

Source: Xinhua Updated: 2022-02-28

BEIJING -- The upcoming Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games has boosted the development of barrier-free environments in Beijing and the co-host city of Zhangjiakou, as well as other areas across the country.

Barrier-free facilities and services at the Beijing National Aquatics Center for the 2021 World Wheelchair Curling Championships, the only test event arranged ahead of the Beijing 2022 Paralympics, were widely lauded for the thoughtful designs for participants with disabilities.

The National Aquatics Center, known as the "Water Cube," was converted to the "Ice Cube" to host curling and wheelchair curling competitions during the Beijing Games.

According to the center, accessible seats and toilets at the spectator stands have been doubled for the Games and will be kept permanently after the events.

In addition to the special ramps for athletes and referees, the Games' organizing committee also set up accessible ramps at the media stand to facilitate the work of journalists with disabilities.

At the National Alpine Skiing Center in Beijing's northern suburb district of Yanqing, specially-designed cable cars will cater to the needs of athletes with lower limb deficiencies.

Accessible services, ranging from mobile navigation to sign language broadcasting, also contribute to the barrier-free experience at the Games.

"Beijing's barrier-free environment standards have met the requirements of hosting a 'streamlined, safe and splendid' Winter Olympics," Dong Lianmin, vice chairman of the Beijing Disabled Persons' Federation, said earlier at a press conference.

To fulfill the commitment to building a barrier-free environment for the 2022 Games, Beijing and Zhangjiakou have been ramping up efforts to put into place accessible facilities and services in recent years.

In November 2019, Beijing launched a three-year campaign to make the city more accessible.

Over the last three years, around 336,000 sites across the city have completed barrier-free renovations.

The city of Zhangjiakou has also shored up its accessibility facilities. As of January 2022, it has built or renovated over 358 km of sidewalks for visually-impaired people, 680 barrier-free toilets, and a large number of barrier-free spectator seats at public venues, and accessible hotels rooms.

Yang Jinkui, an official with the Beijing organizing committee, has underscored the committee's commitment to sustainability and work related to the legacy of the Games.

During the preparations for the Games, the concepts of inclusiveness and accessibility have been greatly promoted, which will also have positive impacts in terms of government decision-making and public awareness, Yang said.