Beijing has done such a good job in transforming the Olympic city into a Paralympic city that the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Philip Craven felt like "over the moon."
"On the night the Olympic flame went out in the National Stadium, already you were transforming the city, never been seen before, the best ever here in Beijing," Craven told reporters on Tuesday. "This is the Paralympic city now, no longer the Olympic city. That just goes to show the BOCOG and the leadership of the people expecting the Paralympic Games not as a second Olympic Games. So we are just so pleased, we are over the moon!"
Four days before the opening ceremony of the first Paralympic Games to be operated by the same organizing committee of the Olympic Games, the IPC president said this could be the launch pad for the Paralympic Movement to move to the next level.
"At this stage all the signs are very very positive. The Paralympic Games in Beijing could well be the launch pad for the Paralympic Movement to move to the next level, or to move onto a new ladder," he said. "Not the same ladder, we are going to a higher ladder and can now start to climb."
If this Paralympic Games will be the best ever? Craven thought it was too early to grade the organizers, but he can wait no longer to give full compliments to the Paralympic Village, the same one used during the Beijing Olympic Games.
"I can't say the Games is the best ever at the moment. Maybe I will do, maybe I won't," said Craven. "But the Paralympians are all excited about being here, about being in a wonderful Paralympic Village, that village over there is more certain the best ever."
"The Paralympic Village is just fantastic. We've got the very best accommodation, the very best food, good transport."
Craven was also content with the fact that China had been doing its best to fulfill its promise of making the Beijing Olympic Games and Paralympic Games equally splendid.
"The airport is very important for the people who use wheelchairs and what's been put in place at the Capital Airport is state-of-the-art," he said. "In fact the BOCOG has devised certain procedures that we have never seen before. That means when you get off the plane, very quickly after the plane arrives, your chair is waiting for you there. That's one example."
The opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games have been tremendous success, while Craven was confident the Paralympic ceremonies would also be no less exciting.
"We are going to have fantastic ceremonies. You thought the opening ceremony of the Olympics was good? Come along to the Paralympics. It's going to be fantastic."
The former wheelchair basketballer is convinced that the competitions of the Paralympics would be no less exciting than those of the Olympics.
"You are not talking about something that is not as good, not as exciting, you are talking about sport that's just as exciting," Craven said. "You will be coming to watch great athletes compete in 20 sports. No matter what I tell you, you will not be amazed until you come along and see it or you watch it on TV."
"Once you watch it on TV, you'll want to come along and see it, be ready to be surprised and amazed, it's going to be the most fantastic Games that's ever been in Beijing."
Craven expected the first Paralympic Games to be held in Beijing to be a memorable one for the Chinese people.
"There will be 4,000 Paralympians all over Beijing. The spectators won's just be coming to watch the Games and the sports, you will be with the Paralympians. It will be a fantastic experience for the people of Beijing and for the Paralympians," he said.
(Xinhua News Agency September 5, 2008)