Beijing 2022 Paralympics Winter Games: Equality and Respect makes Accessibility

A news report from on China’s parasports development:

At the National Biathlon Center in Zhangjiakou, a special lane of 2.5 meters wide and nearly 1000 meters long meanders downhill. On this lane, athletes who compete in the sitting category are able to finish the whole process from warm-up, competition and all the way to press interviews with their sit skis, completely free from extra help.

Designs featuring such convenience and accessibility are commonplace at the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics, like the L-shaped door-knobs in the Yanqing Paralympics Village which could be handled either standing up or sitting down. Volunteers were told in training to not offer help voluntarily, but instead, lend a warm hand to the needed only after they ask for help. These details are designed to enable people with disabilities to accomplish activities independently just like others, which represents equality and respect.

These ideas upheld by China when organizing the Winter Paralympics also comprise the rationale behind China’s parasports. The day before the 2022 Winter Paralympics kicked off in Beijing, China issued a white paper titled “China’s Parasports: Progress and the Protection of Rights”, which briefly introduces China’s parasports development and explains the rationale behind its philosophies and practices.

In 1957, the first national games for blind youth took place in Shanghai. Since then, an increasing number of parasports events have taken place. More and more disabled Chinese athletes are stepping onto the international arena, constantly bettering their performance and achievements. This friendly, enabling climate for parasports has attracted more people with disabilities to participate.

As stated in the white paper, “parasports are a mirror reflecting the living standards and human rights of persons with disabilities.” Since 1949, the position and rights of people with disabilities have been legally acknowledged and protected, with constant improvements along the way. Welfare institutions, specialized social organizations and special schools among other organizations, along with a positive social environment, have guaranteed the rights of people with disabilities. From small things such as acquiring information to significant issues like education and employment, improvements are being made in both accessibility and inclusiveness. In recent years, news such as students with disabilities being admitted into prestigious universities, and retired parasports athletes doing live-stream marketing, have by no means been rare. With the support, safeguard and respect of the general public, more people with disabilities are living a “normal” life.

Sports galas like the Paralympics are also great platforms of international exchanges for parasports. As expressed in the white paper, China is keen to facilitate international dialogue with other countries via parasports, and in turn, does its bit in building a fair, just, reasonable and inclusive global governance order on human rights.

We wish the 2022 Winter Paralympics a successful culmination, and hope more people with disabilities could enjoy sports and enjoy life just as much as everyone else.