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Athletes get red-carpet welcomein village
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08:09, September 01, 2008

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· Paralympics
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The Paralympic Village was opened formally on Saturday with the Chinese squad hoisting its flag and moving in.

The Paralympic Village, transformed from the Olympic Village, will play host to more than 7,000 athletes and officials from 148 countries and regions.

Special accessories and facilities have been added to the village to meet the needs of physically challenged athletes, Deng Yaping, village spokeswoman, said.

"Tactile and accessible pavements, as well as other facilities have been added to the village," Deng said.

"The dining tables have been lowered and the passageways enlarged to help provide better access to the athletes. And a wheelchair-traction service by golf carts has been introduced."

Some layouts in the village have been changed too. A part of the dining hall has been altered to keep wheelchairs and the Olympics Casual Diving Hall has been converted into a wheelchair and prosthetic repair center.

All the toilets have special seats, rolls of tissue and toilet paper and bigger trash bags.

About 30 wheelchair accessible coaches will carry the athletes around the venues, and more volunteers will be present to help the participants.

Athletes and officials have praised the facilities. "It's very nice. The apartments, the streets everything is good," said Rubicela Guzman, a Paralympian from Mexico.

Spread over 66 hectares, the village has 42 apartment buildings, a hospital, a bank, places of worship and many shops.

Advanced teams from more than 41 countries and regions had reached Beijing till Saturday.

Village Mayor Chen Zhili told the Chinese delegation: "Your arrival marks the official opening of the village, which is now ready to embrace athletes and officials from around the world."

The Chinese delegation, with 332 athletes and 215 officials, is the country's largest at the Paralympics.

A commemorative wall with the inscription of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in Chinese and English, was also unveiled on Saturday.

The convention was unanimously approved by delegates of the 192 UN members two years ago, and became effective from May 3 this year.

All athletes, officials and visitors to the village can sign their names on the wall, which will be retained as a legacy of the Beijing Paralympic Games.

Source: China Daily



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