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Paralympics will be 'family affair'
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Sir Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), said he will be happy to fill Beijing's sports stadiums with children to ensure capacity crowds at next year's Paralympics.

"I was criticized in Athens for filling the stadia with schoolchildren, but I don't see what is wrong with it: Young people are the future of the world," he said.

He said after watching the Games for themselves children are likely to encourage their parents to go along too, so it helps educate everyone about the Paralympic movement.

"Tickets will be very cheap and we will also offer special rates for schoolkids," Craven said.

"We want people of all ages to watch the Games."

The ticketing program for the Paralympics will be announced within two or three weeks, with tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies going on sale toward the end of November, Craven said.

The sales channels will be similar to those used for the Olympics, he said, which means people will be able to buy tickets via the Internet, over the telephone and at special counters at Bank of China branches.

About 1.5 million tickets will be available for the Paralympics, which run from September 6 to 17.

About 1.5 percent of the seats will be designed for easy access for disabled people.

The 2008 Paralympics will be the biggest ever in the event's history, featuring 4,000 athletes from more than 150 countries and regions. Some 4,000 journalists and technicians from around the globe will cover the world's second-largest sporting event.

The Games comprise 20 sports with 471 disciplines designed to suit athletes' various levels of disability, Craven said.

While the majority of events will be held in Beijing, the sailing contest will be staged in Qingdao and equestrian events in Hong Kong.

"The events will be held at the same venues as those used for the Olympics," Craven said.

At the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, China topped the medals table with 63 gold, 46 silver and 32 bronze, ahead of the United Kingdom with 35 gold. Next year, China hopes to put out its biggest-ever delegation in a bid to once again top the table.

The 2007 Good Luck Beijing International Goalball Tournament, the first test event for the Paralympics, was staged successfully last month.

China overcame the powerful Swedish team to take the title for the first time.

A second test event, the 2008 Wheelchair Basketball International Tournament, will be held in January.

(China Daily October 24, 2007)

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