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Games host "unready for disabled"

Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 01:52

Nov. 1 - Residents and athletes say 2014 Paralympic Games' Russian host lacks services and infrastructure for disabled. Paul Chapman reports.

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In early 2014 the Russian city of Sochi will host both the Winter Olympics and the Paralympic Games. But some athletes and residents say Sochi is far from ready to cope with the needs of disabled people. Sergei Shilov is a wheelchair racer with the Russian Paralympic team. (SOUNDBITE)(Russian) SERGEI SHILOV, WHEELCHAIR RACER AND RUSSIAN PARALYMPIC TEAM MEMBER, SAYING: "The city was built at a time when no-one thought that there would be disabled people here, that there would be Paralympic Games and now the reconstruction has begun. It's been under reconstruction for seven years. As we used to say, Moscow wasn't built in a day but a lot has to change in the minds of those people in charge of it - builders, managers." The chairman of Sochi's Society of Wheelchair-bound People is also pointing out problems. Oleg Stekolnikov is finding problems ranging from ramps too steep for wheelchairs to inaccessible press-buttons on pedestrian crossing lights. When the games get underway there'll be more than 1, 300 athletes with disabilities. As host to the games Russia promised to ensure accessible Olympic housing, sports venues and other facilities in Sochi. Stekolnikov says not all those promises have been fulfilled. (SOUNDBITE)(Russian) OGEL STEKOLNIKOV, CHAIRMAN OF SOCHI SOCIETY OF WHEELCHAIR-BOUND PEOPLE SAYING: "I'm not the only such person here. There are a lot of us and no healthy person, as I once was, is immune to becoming disabled." In September Human Rights Watch published a report praising Russia for ratifying the 2012 United Nations Convention on the rights of people with disabilities. But it also warned the government still had a long way to go to get it right.

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Games host "unready for disabled"

Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 01:52