The Paralympics are About to Begin

The FEI has announced the official launch of the new and specifically designed website for the 2008 Paralympic Games in Hong Kong; as Hong Kong is ready and awaits with great anticipation the onset of the 2008 Paralympic Games 02/09/2008.

The new website will showcase all the latest news, results, medal count, weather patterns in Hong Kong, photo galleries as well as a look at past Games, statistics, reference documents to name but some of the features provided.

With just two days to go before the Opening Ceremony on 6 September, visit the new website to learn more about the riders competing at these Games in the biographies section or have a look at the detailed schedule to find out when competitions will take place.

Para-Equestrian and its involvement with the Paralympic Games dates to just 1996, and since then, the number of competitors, nations and the standard of competition have increased at a phenomenal rate. Don't miss what is bound to be a historical sporting event!

A senior official of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region ( HKSAR) government stated that Hong Kong's preparatory work for the equestrian events of the 2008 Paralympic Games Equestrian had been completed.

"After the successful conclusion of the Beijing Olympic Equestrian Events, the Government would do its best in preparing for the 2008 Paralympic Games Equestrian Events so as to realize the goal of 'Two Games, Equal Splendour'," said Secretary for Home Affairs of the HKSAR government Tsang Tak-sing at a press conference.

He said that he had earlier visited the Hong Kong Paralympic Village and the Paralympic Equestrian Events competition venue in Sha Tin, noting that various alterations had been made to meet the special needs of disabled athletes, such as facilities for wheel-chair users.

Tsang also said he hoped that through the events, the Paralympic spirit of transcendence, integration and equality could be further promoted.

Lam Woon-kwong, chief executive officer of Hong Kong's Equestrian Company, was alxo present at the press conference. He noted that a record-breaking 73 athletes and 71 horses from 28 countries and regions will participate in nine events, including Peng Yulian of China's team and Nelson Yip of China's Hong Kong team.

"We thank the Hong Kong people for their enthusiastic support for the Olympic Equestrian Events," he said, adding that he hoped the people will render the same support for the Paralympic equestrian events.

Tickets for the Paralympic Equestrian Events had been available for public sale since August 29 and so far, 60 percent of the tickets had been sold, he said.

The Paralympic Equestrian Events were much more than a sporting event, said Jenny Fung, chairperson of the Hong Kong Paralympic Committee and Sports Association for the Physically Disabled.

"Appreciating the talent and skills of the dressage riders aside, we have much to learn from their resilience and perseverance, in particular their ability to take on the many challenges in life, work even harder, and excel," said Fung.

On security arrangements, the Police would maintain a high degree of vigilance and state of operational readiness during the Paralympic Equestrian Events, said Ng Ka-sing, chief Superintendent of Police Public Relations Branch of Hong Kong.

"We note that all the security measures implemented during the Olympic Equestrian Events have proved effective. Similar practices will be adopted during the Paralympic Equestrian Events by putting in place and maintaining at all times appropriate levels of security," he said.

"The force will work in close partnership with the Equestrian Company and all relevant stakeholders to ensure the smooth and safe conduct of the events," he added.

A Burning Desire 29/08/2008

The Temple of Heaven in Beijing, where the lighting ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Torch Relay officially took place on 28 August 2008. (c) Zhang Yu

The lighting ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Torch Relay officially took place on 28 August at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China. The Paralympic Flame was lit using the optical focus of a concave mirror, thus demonstrating the “integration of Heaven and Man”, a core concept of traditional Chinese culture.

The Torch Lighting Ceremony welcomed Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, IPC President Sir Philip Craven, BOCOG President Liu Qi, Executive Vice President of the China Disabled Persons Federation (CDPF), Deng Pufang, BOCOG Executive Vice President Tang Xiaoquan as well as other high-ranking officials from China.

The theme of the relay is “Transcendence, Integration and Equality”, with a total length of 13,181 kilometres. There are 850 planned torchbearers and two different routes, with people with a disability accounting for 20% of the participants. The “Ancient China” route includes Huangdi Mausoleum, Xi’an, Hohhot, Changsha, Nanjing and Luoyang. The “Modern China” route includes Shenzhen, Wuhan, Shanghai, Qingdao and Dalian. The relay lasts nine days from 29 August to 6 September, with the two routes occurring simultaneously.

On 5 September, the routes will converge in Beijing, and one day later the Paralympic Flame will reach the National Stadium to light the cauldron for the Opening Ceremony.

The Torchbearers were selected by the relay cities, CDPF, IPC, BOCOG, the Beijing Disabled Person’s Association and Paralympic sponsors.

The Beijing 2008 Paralympic Torch Relay will be used to showcase the perseverance of athletes with a disability, and provide an opportunity to raise awareness for the Paralympic Movement. It is also an opportunity to promote the development of persons with a disability in China, with an important cultural heritage and legacy.