From high-tech Hangzhou, with love
A robot guide dog leads visually impaired torchbearer Cai Qionghui (second right) on the first day of the torch relay of the 4th Asian Para Games in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, on Thursday. [Photo by Wang Jiancai/For China Daily]
Asian Para Games assistive facilities and accessibility efforts lauded
Hangzhou has been dedicated to hosting the "best ever" Asian Para Games with efforts for the transformation of the competition venues, the athletes' village and related services, as well as on the organization of the competition events, enhanced by love, care and smart technologies, according to the organizers and representatives of the host delegation.
"We have been dedicated to ensuring that the competitions of the Asian Para Games run smoothly and efficiently, and the service is guaranteed to be meticulous and warm," said Mao Genhong, chief spokesperson of the Hangzhou Asian Para Games, during a press conference on Tuesday. "Our goal has been to hold an Asian Games and an Asian Para Games that are equally spectacular."
Hangzhou, along with five other cities in Zhejiang province, has recently played host to the 19th Asian Games. The 4th Asian Para Games, as a following event, officially opened on Sunday night, attracting nearly 3,100 athletes from 44 countries and regions in Asia to compete in 564 events of 22 sports at 19 competition venues in Hangzhou.
As most competition venues are shared with the Asian Games, conversion of the venues and related facilities such as the athletes' village and the transportation system started immediately after the conclusion of the Asian Games and were completed before Oct 15, while grading of the para athletes, which started on Oct 16, was also completed on Oct 22 when the Para Games officially opened, Mao said.
As of Monday, except for rowing, competitions of the other 21 sports have all started. Around 359,000 tickets have also been sold, with revenue of 8.28 million yuan ($1.13m), according to Mao.
Yang Jinkui, director general of the China Administration of Sports for Persons with Disabilities, spoke highly of both the venue facilities and the organization of the competitions.
"Among the many domestic and foreign sports events for people with disabilities in which I have participated, the venues of the Hangzhou Asian Para Games are among the best," Yang said. "It is no exaggeration to say that they have fully reached the international first-class level of the Paralympic Games."
More importantly, Yang continued, the organizing committee has adopted a para-athlete-centric approach to serve the competitions. For example, he said, to cope with the mobility requirements of some visitors and participants, each venue has optimized security inspection measures to improve efficiency.
The organizing committee has even gone the extra mile to make sure the Para Games offer a stage not only for participating athletes, but also for more people with disabilities, Yang added, noting a cheerleading team comprised of hearing-impaired performers at the wheelchair basketball competitions.
"The presence of the cheerleading team has made the stadium a better place," Yang said.
Above all, Yang said he is most impressed by the smart technologies the organizing committee has adopted to aid the para athletes.
Such technologies include electronic identity registration cards, intelligent guide dogs for the visually impaired and robots offering intelligent rehabilitation treatment.
"It can be said that Hangzhou has tapped into technology well, in order to help provide high-quality services for the para athletes," Yang said.
Chen Ping, spokesperson for the Hangzhou Wenhui School Lawn Bowls Green, agreed. As one of the two independent competition venues of the Hangzhou Asian Para Games, the lawn bowls green is the first competition venue in the history of the Asian Para Games that was converted from a middle school playground.
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