Beijing has braced itself up to the opening of the largest-ever Paralympics on Saturday, said an official with the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG).
"After seven years of unremitting efforts, preparatory work for the Beijing Paralympic Games has been fully completed," said Wang Wei, also the spokesman of the Beijing Paralympics at a press conference on Friday.
Around 4,000 athletes from 148 countries and regions will participate in 20 sports at the 13th Paralympics from September 6 to 17.
According to Wang, all venues preparations and athletes registration have been completed, and over 178,000 Games-related staff and more than 400,000 volunteers are in place.
Evaluation of the impairment classification for the athletes has completed on Thursday to ensure the "fair play".
Under the principle of "Two Games, Equal Splendor", the host has beefed up its 100-million-U.S.-dollar budget for the Paralympics to further improve its accessible facilities at competition venues, athlete village, airports, public traffic system, hotels, hospitals and scenic spots like the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.
At least one third of all the entrances at every competition venue are wide enough to accept wheelchairs and more than 3,000 barrier-free buses and taxies are put into use.
Meanwhile the Games flames returned Beijing on Friday after eight-day tour in 10 other Chinese cities on two routes and a joint rehearsal for the opening ceremony was successfully held at the Bird's Nest National Stadium on Thursday evening.
Wang said there would be enough seats for more than 2,000 athletes on wheelchairs and other spectators with disabilities, who would attend the opening ceremony.
"We are all set for the exciting moment (of the grand opening) to come and we have confidence to present the world a wonderful Games again," said Wang.
Safety remains top of the organizers' agenda as the strict security measures at the Olympics will be followed at the 11-day Paralympics.
"We will never underestimated any threat and we will first ensure safety of the Games," said Wang.
More than 100,000 officers will be deployed across the city, and security teams will be based at 17 competition venues, 29 training bases and 16 designated hotels.
"While the scale of the Paralympics is much smaller than the Olympics, the number of police on duty across the city will be the same," said Zhu Yijun, a senior police officer with the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau.
As tough as the measures are, the policy makers also give full consideration to the disabled.
Police and security check personnel have received trainings on how to deal with people with various disabilities in a bid to respect their independence and privacy, said Zhu.
TICKET SALES IS GOOD
As the Paralympics approaches, the enthusiasm of the Chinese for sports, which has ebbed after the Olympics, resurges with "the good sales of tickets".
According to Wang Wei, more than half of the total 2.1 million tickets for the Beijing Paralympics competition were sold out, and those to the National Stadium and the Aquatics Center, the two most recognized venues, were the most attracting.
"Originally, it was planned for 1.66 million tickets (in total). The demand is very high. We opened the 3rd tier of the Bird's Nest to the public and so we have 500,000 more tickets to be sold to the public."
According to the official, the price of the tickets, ranging from 80 yuan (13 U.S. dollars) to 30 yuan (5 U.S. dollars), are affordable for the public in China especially for the disabled people.
A person can buy a maximum of 10 tickets at a time after registering their identity information in 10 major Paralympic venues in the host city.
Meanwhile, tickets will be sold at 48 Bank of China branches in Beijing and the official website www.tickets.beijing2008.cn.
In addition, the spectators with disability are allowed to drive their own cars and motorcycles to the venues, where prepared special parking lots for them.
(Xinhua News Agency September 5, 2008)