Applying the finishing touches

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The red lantern-styled Paralympic mascot, Shuey Rhon Rhon, is seen outside the National Aquatics Center, or "Water Cube" in Beijing on March 1. [Photo/Xinhua]

With athletes beginning to settle into the Beijing 2022 Paralympic villages, Games staff have been busy adjusting the venues to host the upcoming competitions.

Chinese snowboarder Ji Lijia moved into the Paralympic Village in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, on Friday.

"It feels like I've come home. I cannot wait to start training and competing on the course," Ji said.

Starting on Friday, the Paralympic Winter Games, which feature six sports and 78 events, will take place in three competition zones-downtown Beijing, the capital's northwest Yanqing district, and co-host Zhangjiakou.

At Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, course builders began making adjustments to the courses immediately after the Winter Olympics concluded on Feb 20 in preparation for the para snowboard cross and banked slalom events, according to Wang Shitong, a consultant of the snow park's operation team.

"The start platform of the Paralympic snowboard cross needs to be rebuilt as it's about 200 meters lower than the one used during the Olympics to ensure the safety of Paralympic athletes. Also, the banked slalom course will be completely built from scratch on a training course. So, there's a lot of work to be done during the brief transition period," Wang said.

Adjustments also need to be made to power supply systems and infrastructure to adapt to the needs of athletes and broadcasters, he added.

"We have constructed top-quality courses for the Winter Olympics. We will do the same for the Paralympics so athletes can produce their best performances."

With over 80 athletes from 22 countries and regions competing at the snow park, four barrier-free routes have been set up for athletes, coaches, media and spectators to ensure a complete barrier-free experience for all participants. In addition, an artificial limb and wheelchair maintenance center is on standby to provide assistance.

Meanwhile, images of the red lantern-styled Paralympic mascot Shuey Rhon Rhon have replaced those of giant panda Bing Dwen Dwen-the mascot for the Winter Olympics-at the snow park. It won't be long before people can have a full-on Winter Paralympics experience.

In Beijing, adjustments have also been made to the National Aquatics Center in preparation for the wheelchair curling competitions. Also known as the "Ice Cube" for the duration of Beijing 2022, the center hosted curling at the Winter Olympics.

More accessible seats and toilets have been installed at the "Ice Cube", and will remain there permanently. Accessible ramps will cater to not only athletes and referees, but also journalists with disabilities at the media stand.

At the National Alpine Skiing Center in Yanqing, specially designed cable cars will cater to the needs of athletes with lower limb deficiencies.

A total of 96 Chinese athletes will compete in all six sports-wheelchair curling, para ice hockey, para Alpine skiing, para snowboarding, para cross-country skiing and para biathlon.

A total of 736 athletes from all over the world will compete, with 39 medal events for men, 35 for women and four mixed events.

Speaking at the lighting ceremony for the Heritage Flame at Stoke Mandeville, England, on Monday, International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons said: "Beijing is the first ever city to host both the summer and winter editions of the Paralympic Games.

"I was fortunate to be in Beijing for the 2008 Games, and China set new standards for how Games could be delivered and create support structures to allow para athletes to reach their full potential."

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