Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Security to remain tight in Beijing

The heightened security witnessed in Beijing during the Olympics will remain for the duration of the Paralympics, the city's public security bureau said yesterday.

"We will not lower any of the security standards put in place for the Olympics, but we do promise a people-oriented service," Cao Dongxiang, who is in charge of venue security, said at a press conference in Beijing.

"Our guiding principle will be to respect the independence and privacy of all disabled people," he said.

Experts from the China Disabled Persons' Federation have helped train security officers on how to deal with people with various disabilities, he said.

Also, every competition venue will have at least one entry channel that is wide enough to accept wheelchairs, he said.

However, Zhu Yijun, a senior official from the Beijing security command center, has requested all disabled spectators arrive at their venue security checks at least two hours ahead of the event's start time.

He had also some very specific advice for people with hearing difficulties.

"In a bid to improve efficiency, people who have cochlear implants should tell security staff in advance, and enter the venue through the disabled channel," he said.

"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," Zhu said.

More than 100,000 officers - including 1,000 in plainclothes - will be deployed, he said.

Security teams will be based at 17 competition venues, 29 training bases and 16 designated family hotels, he said.

About 4,500 athletes and coaches from 148 countries and regions will take part in the Games, and almost 4,000 journalists will cover the event, he said.

Meanwhile, Zhu also said yesterday that between July 1 and Aug 24, Beijing police cracked 930 street crime cases.

Over the same period, 1,000 people, including 40 foreigners, were questioned or arrested, he said. All of the foreigners had been either detained or deported.

He refused to reveal their nationalities or names.

"We did a good job during the Olympics, and we are confident of doing the same during the Paralympics," he said.

Source: China Daily

Stars turn up to thank volunteers

Two of the biggest stars at the Beijing Olympic Games, swimmer Natalie du Toit and table tennis player Natalia Partyka, paid tribute to the Olympic volunteers at the Paralympic Village yesterday.

The two made history by entering the Olympics with able-bodied athletes last month.

They thanked and presented memorabilia pins to the volunteers.

"Everyone has been very very sweet," du Toit, the 24-year-old South African, wearing her country's dark green Paralympic shirt and white shorts, said. She is first amputee athlete to take part in both the Games.

Du Toit placed fourth in the 2008 Open Water World Championships held in May in Seville, Spain and instantly qualified for the Olympics. She competed in the 10 km marathon swimming event at the Olympics and placed 16th among the 25 best distance swimmers in the world.

In February 2001, her left leg had to be amputated at the knee after being hit by a car while riding her scooter back to school after swimming practice.

But just three months later, even before she could walk again, she was back in the pool determined to compete at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

She said young people, including the thousands of passionate volunteers, should always be positive toward the possibilities in their lives and give all they can.

"Aim high, dream big, and achieve your ambitions," she said. "As I have always said, the tragedy of life lies in not having goals to reach."

Representatives of the 70,000 Olympic volunteers were yesterday presented with bouquets by newly elected members of the IOC, including legendary Russian swimmer Alexander Popov.

More than 44,000 volunteers, many of whom served at the Olympics, will help out at the Paralympic Games starting on Saturday.

Natalia Partyka, Poland's 19-year-old table tennis star, was born without a right hand.

"I am surprised by the work of the volunteers. A week ago the spectator stands at the Olympic Village welcoming ceremony were tiered. Today, they have been transformed into barrier-free slopes," Partyka said.

She became a household name among Chinese fans when she defeated World No 6 Li Jia Wei from Singapore at the World Championships in Guangzhou earlier in the year.

Li Mengdi, 19, a volunteer, said: "I think athletes and volunteers inspire each other. I was inspired by Partyka."

Both du Toit and Partyka said they have now aclimitized to the weather and conditions.

Du Toit said her training at the Water Cube has been perfect.

She said her goal was to do the same as at the last Paralympics - winning five gold medals. But this time, she expects tougher competition, especially from the Chinese swimmers.

"It's going to be tough. There are 41 swimmers from China," du Toit said.

Source: China Daily

Media services 'top quality'

The media services provided for the Beijing Paralympics will be every bit as good as those available at last month's Olympics, the Games' organizers said yesterday.

At the same time, they will take into account the specific requirements of disabled reporters, Sun Weijia, director of BOCOG's media operations department, said.

"It is unprecedented for a Paralympic Games to use the same media facilities and services as an Olympics," Sun said at the reopening of the Main Press Center and International Broadcast Center , both of which were used at the Olympics.

"As well as providing high-quality media services, we have paid full consideration to the needs of disabled journalists working here during the Paralympics."

More than 6,300 journalists, 47 of them disabled, from 13 countries and regions have been accredited to cover the Games, which start on Saturday, Sun said.

In the period between the two Games, both the MPC and IBC were adapted to better suit the needs of disabled reporters, he said.

Both are completely wheelchair-friendly, for example, and teams of volunteers will be on hand to help as required, he said.

"Both venues have easy-access elevators, while in the main lobby and work areas of the MPC, there are four sets of Braille printers and special computer terminals for reporters with impaired sight," he said.

Also, the interview rooms at most Games venues are more spacious to ensure easy access for people in wheelchairs, while press tables and handrails have been adapted accordingly, Sun said.

Furthermore, all media shuttle buses offer easy access, while 10 specially adapted taxis are available by reservation.

"BOCOG can also provide one-on-one services for disabled journalists if required," he said.

Source: China Daily

Professor gets relay going

The sun shone as the Paralympic torch relay arrived here yesterday in the capital of Jiangsu province, the latest stop along its "ancient China" route.

The 3-km, 90-minute run began at Dr Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum and involved 60 torchbearers, six of them disabled.

University professor Hou Jingjing, who has been confined to a wheelchair since losing her legs to polio at the age of 11, was the first to carry the torch.

"I feel really happy and honored to be the relay's first torchbearer," she said.

Despite her physical disability, Hou, a native of Ma'anshan in Anhui province, has always had a passion for life, and a love for the English language, which she began studying as a young girl.

In 1997, she completed a bachelor's degree in English and followed that a year later with a master's in the same subject from Nanjing Normal University. In 2004, she completed her PhD to become China's first wheelchair-bound doctor.

"I always felt I could achieve the same things as able-bodied people because I have confidence in myself, and have always received strong support from both my family and society as a whole," Hou said.

She has given back to society by working with young people at delinquency prisons, as well as donating the money she was awarded for being a model worker to poor students and orphans across China.

Running the last leg of yesterday's relay was local sports coach Zhou Zengfu.

He said six athletes from Nanjing will take part in the Beijing Games and he expects them all to do well.

"I am confident that Nanjing athletes will win about 10 medals at the Paralympics," he said.

Over the past 20 years, 67-year-old Zhou has trained several Paralympic champions.

"The Paralympics is a not only a sporting event, but also a chance for disadvantaged people from around the world to get together and learn from each other and get to know more about the world," Zhou said.

Mu Guiying, president of the Nanjing Disabled People's Association, said that over the past several years, local authorities have done much to improve the lives and working conditions of Nanjing's 441,500 disabled residents, who account for more than 6 percent of the city's total population.

The proportion of disabled people in work has risen from 60 percent in 2003 to 80 percent last year, while 99 percent of all disabled children now receive compulsory education.

Source: China Daily

Sorenstam to play in China at last

World No 2 Annika Sorenstam will make her maiden appearance in a professional tournament in China when the Swede competes in the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open from Oct 30 to Nov 2.

World No 2 Annika Sorenstam will make her maiden appearance in a professional tournament in China when the Swede competes in the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open from Oct 30 to Nov 2.

The event, tri-sanctioned by the Ladies Asian Golf Tour , Ladies European Tour and the China Golf Association, will have special significance for the former world No 1 as this will be the final time that she will compete in a professional tournament, having announced that she is stepping away from competitive golf at the end of the season.

The event will offer the prize purse of 200,000 euros and will be held at Suzong Taihu International Golf Club, in Jiangsu province.

"I'm delighted to be coming over to play in the first ever Ladies European Tour event in China. Having started my professional career in Europe, I feel a very strong bond with the Tour and to be able to share this historic moment with my fellow European players is a big thrill," Sorenstam said.

"It's great also to see that the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open 2008 is a true international event with not only competitors from the Ladies European Tour but also a large number from Asia, and particularly from China. China represents the future and I would love to see women's golf develop strongly there."

"We're delighted that the Ladies European Tour is coming to China," said Zhang Xiaoning, deputy chairman and secretary-general of the China Golf Association. "And we're particularly proud that one of the all time great players in women's golf, Annika Sorenstam, will compete. It presents Chinese lady professionals with some really tough competition and will be a great motivation for them to raise their performance to the highest level."

"It's our first event ever in China and will be a historic occasion for us," Alex Armas, executive director of the Ladies European Tour said. "At a time of year when the weather in Europe is turning against us, it's important to be able to extend the Tour's season and give our players an opportunity to come here to compete."

LAGT chief executive Aylwin Tai welcomed the new event and thanked Suzong Taihu International Golf Club for its foresight in sponsoring this event.

"The LAGT events are getting bigger and bigger. We need to elevate the status and prestige of LAGT," he said. "We have been very successful as a few players on our Tour have already chalked up victories in the US LPGA and Japan LPGA, and also did relatively well in the LET tournaments."

Source: China Daily

Nigerian power lifter aims to set world record

Solomon Amarakwu, Nigeria's 2002 Commonwealth Games power lifting gold medalist, has promised to set a new world record at the Beijing Paralympics, reported the News Agency of Nigeria.

Amarakwu said he would improve on his previous mark in Beijing.

"In Manchester, I set a new world record of 235kg to win gold at the Commonwealth Games and at the Athens 2004 Paralympics Games,I improved on it with another new world record of 240kg to win gold again. I have trained very hard and I am injury free, nothing other than gold is my target in Beijing," he said.

Amarakwu will compete in the men's 90kg category.

Eight power lifters including Amarakwu will represent Nigeria at the Games.

The seven others are Lucy Ejike , Patience Igbiti ,Victoria Nneji , Kikelomo Ogunbamiwo and Grace Alozie in the female category while Ruel Isiaku and Obioma Alegakwue are taking part in the male category.

The Paralympics Games open on Sept. 6 and end on Sept. 17 in Beijing.

Source: Xinhua

Beijing Paralympics Main Press Center opens

Following the successful services for the Beijing Olympic Games, the Beijing Olympic Games Main Press Center was once again opened for the Beijing Paralympics Games on September 2 after a brief transition .

The Beijing Paralympics MPC is the working headquarter for the accredited journalists, photographers and the non-right holding broadcasters' organizations, and will provide an excellent working conditions, stable and efficient technology and communications systems, fast and accurate information and also many kinds of services to the media.

According to Sha Wanquan, director of MPC Venue Operation Team, that the MPC has taken full account of the special requirement of the Paralympic Games. The MPC has been designed in full compliance with the accessibility specification, it is a high standard barrier-free venues. All the entrances of the MPC have barrier free ramps so that people with disabilities can easily access building; all the reception desks are of low and high positions; the working desks and tables for the journalists are designed in such a way that it can provide convenience both to the people with disabilities; the dedicated Info Terminal and the screen reading software have been installed for the people with visual impairment. The MPC has also installed various services in support of the work of the journalists covering the Paralympics.

In addition, the dedicated freezers installed in the media dining hall, the food, beverages, flavourings and table wears are placed with the recommendation of the experts. All the venues and working people in the MPC have received multiple rounds of training, especially people working in the reception area have received on site training so that they provide more detailed and professional services.

Sha Wanquan said that the Paralympic Games uses the same MPC as the Olympic Games so that the facilities and services at the Paralympic Games can be maintained at the same level and the same standard as the Olympic Games. This is an innovation in the Paralympic history. This also fully shows the high attention given by the Chinese government and BOCOG to the media services for the Paralympic Games.

By People's Daily Online