(ECNS) -- Paralympic Villages in downtown Beijing and the city's Yanqing District officially opened to global athletes on Friday. About 150 athletes and staff members of 11 delegations from countries including Australia and Japan will check in today.
Beijing has switched its facilities and venues from the Winter Olympic Games to the Winter Paralympics. The barrier-free passage in the reception hall of Beijing Paralympic Village has been widened to 0.95 meters, allowing people who use wheelchairs to pass easily. The gate inspection has also been replaced by more humanized manual inspection. Delegations can enter their apartments after the security check and verification.
"The height of the bed has been lowered by 10 centimeters compared to that during the Winter Olympics for wheelchair-bounded persons," said a staff member of Yanqing Paralympic Village. The mascot Shuey Rhon Rhon has also replaced Bing Dwen Dwen, the staff member added.
The barrier-free transformation of the athlete restaurant has also been completed, including setting up lower pick-ups and adjusting table height, space for wheelchairs as well as the placement of tables, chairs and other items in order to better serve wheelchair-bound persons. For instance, the height of dining tables has been increased five to six centimeters for wheelchairs. A total of 46 tables have been prepared for wheelchair users. The seat numbers have been reduced from 346 to 212 due to the decrease of personnel compared with the Winter Olympics and the necessity to widen the passage for wheelchairs. What's more, both Paralympic Villages have set up repair centers for prosthesis, orthosis and wheelchairs.
Yanqing Paralympic Village has welcomed delegations of more than 500 people from the Netherlands, Austria and other countries since its pre-opening on Wednesday. A total 44 people from the Chinese delegation have already checked in.
Currently, a total of 48 delegations are qualified to participate in the Paralympics and will compete for 78 gold medals in six events including Para alpine skiing, Para biathlon, Para cross-country skiing, Para snowboarding, ice sledge hockey and wheelchair curling.