Members of the South Korean sports delegation arrive at Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport through the exclusive channel in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, on Oct 14, 2023. [Photo/VCG]
HANGZHOU -- The fourth Asian Para Games will officially start on Sunday, and the host city Hangzhou, in East China's Zhejiang province, has been transformed into a barrier-free city for the event.
The Para Games places priority on making accessible services available to disabled athletes. 17 of its 19 competitive venues are shared with the Asian Games, and all have been upgraded and renovated to provide barrier-free facilities.
Tangqi Blind Goalball Base has devised several solutions to make things easier for participants and spectators. When athletes enter the venue, the stereo overhead will play Chinese and English announcements, beginning in the foyer and in all areas of the venue. An auto-sensing voice announcer will help athletes identify the direction. On the outdoor lawn, there is rest space for guide dogs. Zhang Liming, the venue's transition project manager, explained that the venue added a rain shelter to provide a comfortable atmosphere for the guide dogs. "It's not safe to leave your dog at the hotel, and it might be impolite to bring it into the venue, so this rest area, which is open 24/7, solves the problem," Zhang said.
In the Asian Para Games Village, ramps have been added as needed, entrances and exits to buildings have been widened, and facilities such as Braille buttons on elevators and accessible handrails in bathrooms are available. Meanwhile, the beds in the rooms have been adjusted in height to facilitate better rest for disabled athletes. "The modernized barrier-free facilities in the village make it easy for us to get around, and there are humanistic details to show Hangzhou's charm," Chinese swimmer Jiang Yuyan said.
At the Village's opening ceremony on Monday, Majid Rashed, president of the Asian Paralympic Committee, said it is "the perfect place and athletes will feel right at home".
In addition to the barrier-free venues and Village, Hangzhou hopes to take this opportunity to develop into a barrier-free city.
Over the past three years, Hangzhou has renovated and upgraded 140,000 barrier-free spots, as well as 75 urban roads, more than 3,000 kilometers of blind roads, 50 urban pedestrian bridges and tunnels, and more than 1,600 accessible public toilets. Meanwhile, Hangzhou has created an innovative online barrier-free services platform that offers one-stop integrated services such as translation, travel and living.
"The Asian Para Games and the athletes living in this Village will send a powerful message that people with disabilities can achieve something. By changing the way people with disabilities are viewed, we hope to create more opportunities for them, and work together to build a more inclusive society," said Rashed.