Sochi 2014 accessibility preparations ahead of schedule
Sunday, 02 September 2012
September 2 - Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak has claimed Sochi is more than two thirds ready to receive disabled visitors for the Paralympic Winter Games in 2014.
Sochi is undergoing major renovations for both the Games, with facilities in the city being adjusted to cater for the disabled.
Russia has more than 13 million citizens living with a disability.
As part of Russia's efforts to change attitudes towards the disabled, there has been a Decade of Disabled People initiative, involving Sochi 2014 organisers, the Russian International Olympic University and the Russian Paralympic Committee.
Under former President and current Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Russia signed a United Nations convention on the rights of the disabled, promising to make Sochi a model of accessibility.
Progress has been made beyond the Black Sea resort too, particularly in Moscow, which provides special taxis for the disabled.
According to Kozak, who has responsibility for overseeing Games preparations, work to make the city suitable to receive visitors with disabilities is ahead of schedule.
"Today, the plan is 70 percent completed," said Kozak while attending the Paralympics in London.
"We are confident that after we finish this work, Sochi will be one of the country's exemplary cities when it comes to creating a barrier-less environment."
He added that Sochi's smaller size means it will not take as long to prepare for the Paralympics as it did for London.
"The scale of Sochi is smaller, so in these years of preparation we can equip the whole city as London over many years," he commented.
The Sochi 2014 Paralympics will feature five sports: sledge hockey; wheelchair curling; biathlon and cross country skiing; alpine skiing; and snowboarding, which will make its debut at the Games.
There will be 72 medal events in total at the Sochi Paralympics, which will take place from March 7 until 16 in 2014.
August 2012: Sochi 2014 delegation visits London to learn from Paralympic Games