Para-sports get boost from Beijing 2022

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Para-athlete Liu Gengliang trains in Chongli district, Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, on March 20. WEI XIAOHAO/CHINA DAILY

Organizers of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics are aiming to promote the values of equality and inclusiveness among young people in the buildup to the Games and beyond.

A physical education curriculum has been set up to help students experience and understand the training methods of para athletes. The program, which includes wheelchair basketball and running with closed eyes, follows drills used at training centers for disabled athletes around the country.

A total of 835 primary and secondary schools have also participated in education courses to learn about the history of the Paralympic Games, according to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Organising Committee.

The Winter Games organizers and para-sports promoters are hoping the Olympics will help raise awareness about access to facilities and sports for para athletes as well as promote social inclusiveness.

"Through the education program, we hope to help break down barriers and build bridges between ordinary people and those with disabilities," Yang Jinkui, director of the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee's Paralympic Department, said at a media event on Monday to mark the 200-day countdown to the opening of the Winter Paralympics on March 4.

"The spirit of para athletes is equally inspirational for ordinary people when it comes to overcoming challenges in their lives, while the development of access facilities is also an important benefit for the elderly."

At Beijing Chenjinglun High School's Jinsong campus, the para-sports program has received positive feedback from the students, said physical education teacher Liu Weinan.

"In addition to the value of physical exercise, these games and training drills have played a big role in helping our students realize that the idea of 'it's possible' is way more important than 'I'm the winner'," she said.

Preparatory work for the 10-day Winter Paralympics has shifted from venue readiness to operational tuneups, according to the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee.

Five venues hosting six sports-Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, biathlon, snowboarding, para-ice hockey and wheelchair curling-have been completed. Venue staff are busy fine-tuning details on services for the para athletes. They are also looking at uses for the venues after the Games close on Feb 20.

Organizers, venue operators and owners and public health experts have joined a special task force looking at COVID-19 safety measures during the Paralympics.

Refurbishment of 25 noncompetition venues and preparation of facilities for media operations, ceremonies and accommodation will be completed by October, laying a solid foundation for a series of international test events, including the wheelchair curling world championships.

"After running tests of competitive events, transportation operations, security and medical services, we are now 100 percent confident that the event will be held on schedule and in a safe manner for all participants," Yang said.

Having hosted the Summer Paralympics in 2008, preparing for the winter edition of the Paralympics will take Beijing's barrier-free facilities and services for disabled people to the next level, said Guo Liqun, director of publicity and culture of the China Disabled Persons' Federation.

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