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By Daniel Schearf
Beijing
25 August 2008

The Beijing Olympics have been declared a sporting success. Attention is now turning to the Paralympics, which many hope will improve the situation for the disabled in China. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.

The Beijing Olympics ended Sunday night with a grand closing ceremony.
 
Beijing's organization, infrastructure, and iconic sports venues for the games drew widely praised during two weeks of competition.  

Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, declared the Beijing games a success that would leave a lasting, positive legacy.

"Through these Games the world learnt more about China and China learned more about the world," Rogge said.

Beijing is now gearing up to host the Paralympics - the world's biggest sporting event for those with physical disabilities.  

Disabled people have long been discriminated against in Chinese society. Many advocates for China's disabled hope the Paralympics will help millions of people be able to better integrate into society here.

Tang Xiaoquan is president of the China Disabled Persons' Federation and vice president of the Beijing Olympic committee.

She says they will take the opportunity of the Paralympics games in Beijing to greatly improve accessible facilities. She says this will help the 999,000 people with disabilities in Beijing better integrate into society.

China has 83 million disabled people. Most of them find it difficult to travel and hold jobs because cities have few facilities that are accessible for those using wheelchairs or crutches, or who have vision problems.

As part of its Olympics preparations, Beijing has made all of its subway stops accessible to wheelchairs. During the Paralympics, there will be 16 dedicated public bus lines for the disabled and 400 shuttle buses.

The Chinese government requires all new buildings to have accessible facilities, and older public buildings are to be renovated to provide access.

More than 4,000 athletes will compete in the Paralympics, which begin September 6 and last 12 days. The athletes will compete in and stay in the same facilities used for Olympics, including the popular Water Cube and Bird's Nest stadium.

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