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Paralympics New Focus of International Media
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Media accreditation for the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, which is being billed as a "Games of Equal Splendor" and is expected to attract an unprecedented degree of media coverage, is under discussion for those who want to cover the September 6-17 event next year.


"Some 4,000 journalists, in comparison to 3,000 or so who covered the recent editions of the Paralympics Games, will come to cover the 2008 Paralympics and many of them are from the domestic media," said Zhang Qiuping, director of the Paralympics Games Department of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG).


At previous Paralympics, the media did not need to register in order to cover the Games, but this time BOCOG is making it a necessity.


In recent years, China has become more aware of the needs of people with disabilities due in part to the country's rapid economic growth and the success of athletes at international events such as the Paralympics. This has led to more interest in the Games from Chinese media.


Since China first participated in the 1984 Paralympics, co-hosted by Stoke Mandeville, UK, and New York, the world has seen China's dramatic rise at the sporting event.


It finished 16th in the overall medal tally at the Barcelona Paralympics in 1992, then rose steadily over the years to lead the tally in Athens with 141 medals, including 63 golds.


The recently hosted 7th National Games for the Disabled in Yunnan Province saw 91 new world records broken and packed stadiums at marquee competitions like wheelchair basketball, swimming and athletics.


"We will send our largest delegation, maybe larger than that of any other country, to the 2008 Paralympics," said Jia Yong, director of the Sports Department at the China Disabled Persons' Federation (CDPF).


"Now we are not sure how many gold medals we can get, because after the Athens Games, things have changed a lot. Our goal is not to get the most medals, but to take part in more sports."


China is strong in swimming, table tennis and power lifting, which do not require much in the way of training resources, Jia said, but lags in more sophisticated sports like equestrian and sailing.


Related sports organizations are trying new ways to develop these sports. Guangdong Province and Qingdao city are now helping train athletes for equestrian and sailing events, respectively.


A comprehensive training center for the disabled athletes will be completed in July in Beijing.


To make sure more Chinese disabled athletes can qualify for the 2008 Games, China has already sent some 1,500 people to participate in international events and some 400 have already secured Olympic berths.


(China Daily June 1, 2007)

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