‘Winter Paralympic Games have created a good environment for people with disabilities to more actively integrate into society so that the Games will continue to improve the situation for people with disabilities in China.'
31 Dec 2021
STAGE IS SET: The National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest is seen from the top level of the Olympic Tower in the Olympic Green in Beijing, China. The area will host a number of events for the Beijing 2022 Winter Games, including the opening ceremonies.
ⒸKevin Frayer/Getty Images
By Zhen Ma / Teddy Katz | For the IPC
One of the most anticipated sporting extravaganza of 2022 is the Beijing 2022 Winter Games and we caught up with the organisers to paint a picture of what the world can expect to see at the Paralympics Winter Games.
1. What are some of the unique elements you are planning for the Beijing 2022 Paralympics as the first host city to ever host both the winter and summer Paralympics?
Venues from the Beijing 2008 will continue to serve the 2022 Winter Paralympics, such as the Bird's Nest, Water Cube and National Stadium, which can switch between summer and winter sports.
Accessible facilities in all competition venues and non-competition venues have been built or upgraded. The core area of the Capital and the areas related to the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Events services have been totally barrier-free. A total of 289,000 barrier-free facilities have been renovated in the city.
2. How have you repurposed some of the venues that were first used at the Beijing 2008 Games?
During the Paralympic Winter Games, the National Stadium (Bird's Nest) will continue to serve as the venue for the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the Games, the National Aquatics Centre (Water Cube) will be transformed into the venue for Wheelchair Curling, and the National Indoor Stadium will be transformed into the Para Ice Hockey venue.
The National Aquatics Centre, formerly a swimming pool, has been converted into a curling arena with four standard sheets. This conversion mode not only realises the exchange of 'Water Cube' into 'Ice Cube', but also saw the reuse of converted materials, greatly reducing the cost of demolition and reconstruction.
The National Indoor Stadium has carried out a comprehensive upgrade of the facility. The change rooms are very close to the main ice rink, training ground and wheelchair prosthetics repair point.
Some of the original seats in the venue were removed, new platforms were built, accessible seats were increased by four times, and escort seats were provided.
3. What are the other key clusters that will be used for the Paralympic Games...in Yanqing and Zhangjiakou?
After the Winter Olympic Games, the clusters in Yanqing area including National Alpine Skiing Centre, Yanqing Winter Paralympic Village and Yanqing Paralympic Awards Square will be transformed to host training, competition, accommodation, and awards ceremony for Para Alpine Skiing.
In the Zhangjiakou area, seven venues will be used for the Games, with the high-speed railway connection - Beijing-Zhangjiakou and Beijing-Chongli - taking visitors to the core of this area. Among them, the National Biathlon Centre, Genting Ski Resort, Zhangjiakou Winter Paralympic Village and Zhangjiakou Awards Square will host the training, competition, accommodation, and awards ceremony for the three events of Para Cross-Country Skiing, Biathlon and Para Snowboarding.
4. China won its first-ever Paralympic Winter Games medal - gold - in Wheelchair Curling in 2018. How much is hosting the Games helping develop Winter Paralympic sports in China?
After Beijing and Zhangjiakou successfully bid for the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, it has been a great opportunity to develop winter sports for people with disabilities in China. Training facilities for Para ice sports were built and put into use. The number of winter Para athletes has increased from less than 50 to more than 1,000, and the number of technical officials has grown from zero to hundreds. The 'China Snow and Ice Sports Season for Disabled Persons' has been held for five consecutive years, attracting hundreds of thousands of disabled people to participate in winter Para sports.
5. You will be having domestic fans in the stands, is there anything you are doing to try to give all athletes a cheering section of some kind since fans from other countries can't attend?
The Winter Paralympic Games is a stage for Para athletes from all over the world to show their talents. We will transmit the live events to the world through TV and cloud broadcasting services.
Chinese spectators are a very enthusiastic group. At the venues, we will explain the characteristics of the event, introduce the athletes, stimulate the enthusiasm of the audience, and create a warm home environment for the athletes from all countries and regions.
6. Beijing 2008 helped raise awareness for people with disabilities in China, what are you hoping will be the legacy of these Paralympics?
The legacy of these Paralympic Games is enormous in many ways.
In terms of the legacy of facilities, the Winter Olympics and Paralympics can continue to serve people with disabilities after the Games, providing a model for urban accessible construction.
In terms of sports, more people with disabilities have learned about the Winter Paralympic Games, and more athletes will participate in them, laying a solid foundation for all-around development of winter sports in China.
In terms of inclusivity, accessibility and inclusiveness will be better understood by the society through the dissemination of information about the Winter Paralympic Games, the organisation of voluntary services and cultural activities, that will effectively promote the building of an inclusive society.
On the whole, we are confident that the Winter Paralympic Games have created a good environment for people with disabilities to more actively integrate into society so that the Games will continue to improve the situation for people with disabilities in China.