The Paralympic Village in Beijing officially opened its doors yesterday to Paralympic delegations from all over the world. The village is expected to be the temporary home for 7,400 guests, around 4,000 of whom are athletes, during their stay in Beijing.31 Aug 2008
The colourful ceremony gave organizers and hosts the opportunity to welcome the athletes, officials, staff and volunteers. Various high-ranking officials were present at the official opening, including Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu, BOCOG President Liu Qi, IPC President Sir Philip Craven and IPC Vice President Miguel Sagarra. The Chinese Paralympic delegation raised China's national, signaling the official moving in of this year's 547 member delegation, the largest in Chinese history.
Some of the facilities of the Paralympic Village, covering 66 hectares, have been adjusted to the needs of the Paralympic athletes. The entire complex meets specified accessibility standards to allow athletes independent living conditions. "Tactile and accessible pavements as well as other facilities for people with a disability have been installed in public areas," said Chen Zhili, the Paralympic Village Mayor. "The serving tables were all lowered, the passageways were also enlarged and wheelchair-traction services by golf carts are also available," she added.
The Paralympic Villages are equipped with relaxation areas, shops, gyms, restaurants and medical and massage rooms. The villages of the co-host cities Qingdao and Hong Kong also opened their doors yesterday.
After the Paralympic Games, the Village will become property of the city and will be used for housing.
In addition to the Village opening, a memorial wall dedicated to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was unveiled. Hui Liangyu said at the unveiling that the UN Convention was a guiding document for the international community to deal with affairs concerning persons with a disability and a milestone in the progress of human civilization.