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7 December 2016

China holds Winter Sports Festival for the Disabled, Unveils New Barrier-Free Resort

Skiing, snowboarding and a multitude of other winter sports have long delighted the hordes of eager visitors that hit the slopes around the world each year. Unfortunately, this hugely popular pastime is somewhat difficult for many disabled individuals, for reasons both obvious and obscure. Winter sports in general require extraordinary balance and a decent measure of strength; even little things like the conventional ski lift can be entirely inaccessible for those with particular disabilities.

For the Chinese, however, such matters won’t deter them from getting involved. Starting pilot operations on December 3rd (The International Day of Persons with Disabilities), Beijing’s first ever barrier-free ski resort will allow all people, disabled and able-bodied alike, to experience the joy of the snowy slopes. The resort, situated to the northwest of Yanqing, will officially open to the public in late December, featuring specially adapted barrier-free lanes for the disabled.

In an added push to get those with physical impairments involved in winter sports, China also held its first ever winter sports festival for the disabled over the weekend just gone. Within the city of Yanqing, what will be the ski centre for the 2022 Winter Olympics was carefully adapted with fully accessible facilities, access ramps and lowered cable cars, allowing those with disabilities to enjoy more than 20 winter sports events. The events also include skiing lessons for both the disabled and able-bodied.

One happy patron told ECNS of his experience, “It is not easy for us to keep balance with only one leg at the extreme speeds of alpine skiing. The experience of skiing made me more confident, to myself as well as to my body. I think this is helpful for my life in the future.”

As the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics, China’s government is making an effort to get the population at large interested in winter sports, as the country is historically more successful at the summer games. They are likely seeking to avoid embarrassment by faltering at their own event, and are considering some drastic measures such as making winter sports compulsory for all Beijing schoolchildren in the run-up to the games. So, while this is an incredible gesture of solidarity and inclusion for the disabled, it is likely only one small part of a much larger plan.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.