Following the one-year countdown celebration for the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), spoke with the official website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
During the interview Sir Craven conveyed his confidence in BOCOG and China in ensuring the Paralympic Games will be of equal splendor with the Olympic Games.
Paralympic Games preparation
Sir Philip Craven stressed creating a Paralympic Games of "equal splendor" with the Olympic Games in 2008. During the past five and a half years, Sir Craven has visited Beijing 12 times and has watched the preparation and operation plans for the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games unfold.
"I've no concerns," said Sir Craven of BOCOG's preparatory work for the 2008 Paralympic Games. BOCOG has kept on target with the plans up until now, and if BOCOG is able to continue in this manner in the last year of preparations, Sir Craven is confident that Paralympic Games "will be of equal splendor."
The people of China and the quality of their work, both senior leaders and people at the ground level have impressed Sir Craven. "They're the people firing up the engine," commented Sir Craven. With the support of the Chinese government and the Chinese people, the BOCOG Paralympic division will be able to get the work done.
"Barrier free" benefits everyone
The Beijing government has invested a significant amount of resources to creating a barrier-free environment in light of the Paralympic Games. A crucial part of the barrier-free improvements can be seen in competition venues, where barrier-free equipment and facilities will facilitate the Paralympians in their competitions.
Sir Craven explained that "barrier-free means barrier-free for everybody" and does not just benefit people with a disability. With new constructions such as the competition venues in Beijing, the construction cost would be practically the same with or without barrier-free facilities.
"And it's better for everybody," said Sir Craven. Easier access for someone in a wheelchair would likewise mean easier access for a mother with a baby stroller. Everybody benefits from a barrier-free environment.
From September 13-16, 2007, the Good Luck Beijing 2007 International Goalball Tournament will be held at the Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium. Adjustments will be made to the barrier-free venue based on the goalball events.
Paralympic development in China
Rapid development is apparent in all aspects of China, and this is no different in terms of Paralympic sports development. Sir Craven pointed out the new Paralympic training center near the Capital Airport. Although the facility is still in its completion stages, Sir Craven is more than pleased with the "unbelievable facility," which is open for use by Paralympic athletes from other countries.
Encouragement for people with a disability
Sir Craven, a five-time Paralympian, along with all the other Paralympians around the world, prove that having a disability does not mean one is "disabled." Sir Craven suffered an accident when he was 16 years old that has required him to use a wheelchair since. However, he has managed to live a full life playing wheelchair basketball, getting married and having children. .
For people who have difficulty moving about, Sir Craven recommends using sports as a tool to bring excitement into their lives. Sports "gives people the passion to fight for their lives and lead a full life," he said.
Likewise, he encourages local governments to help this cause and provide the appropriate facilities.
Excitement for 2008
Next September, volunteers will play a significant role in contributing to the excitement of the Paralympic Games. Volunteers encourage everybody to have fun no matter what. "They have fun, they do a very good job, but they really contribute to the fun experience of the Paralympics," said Sir Craven.
Sir Craven also encourages everybody who are interested in the Paralympic Games to "remain interested and build up that interest" because "at the Paralympic Games, you will see sport at its very best."
(BOCOG September 12, 2007)