A design picture of the National Speed Skating Oval for long-track speed skating in Beijing. (Provided to China Daily)
The Beijing 2022 organizing committee released guidelines for better barrier-free access on Friday, as Beijing and Zhangjiakou, the co-host city in Hebei province, are gearing up for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
The Guide to Barrier-free Services for the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympics Games lays out requirements for creating a barrier-free environment in preparation for the sports event.
"The release of the guide is not only meant to ensure a successful Olympic Games, but also set up higher standards for barrier-free accessibility across China and boost development of the country's public services in general," said Zhou Jian, deputy head of the rights department of the China Disabled Persons' Federation.
Compared to the Code for Accessibility Design, in effect across China since 2012, which mainly deals with infrastructure, the new guide also features barrier-free access to information and services, such as easy access to sports schedules for the blind and convenient wheelchair rentals.
It also covers the training and management of those offering services, and the maintenance of facilities.
The next step, according to Song Qiang, deputy head of the committee's planning department, is to enforce full implementation of the guide by cooperating with authorities in urban and rural planning, traffic management and federations for people with disabilities.
"New stadiums and venues built for the 2022 Winter Games must comply with the guide and those being renovated for the Games should tailor their facilities to meet the basic requirements for smooth operations," he said.
Song added that all facilities and public spaces related to the Olympics Games, including hotels, airports, railway stations, and public transportation systems are encouraged to observe the guide and add more convenience for those with reduced abilities.
Beijing, home to 18 venues of the 2022 Winter Games, will begin an investigation into the current situation of barrier-free access in the city and devise an action plan and a supervision system in accordance with the guide, said Tao Zhihong, an official of Beijing's city planning authority.
Another eight venues are located in Zhangjiakou, about 220 km from downtown Beijing. Because its disability-friendly facilities are already insufficient, especially in suburban areas, the city launched a plan early this year to upgrade its accessibility within three years.
"Challenges ahead include ensuring effective implementation across all stages from planning to completion, and improving awareness of the guide among those involved in offering such services," said Zhang Lijun, an official of the city's housing and urban-rural development bureau.