Paralympic head talks Vancouver Games

BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:36 PM ET

VANCOUVER - The head of the International Paralympic Committee said Friday he didn’t know that balconies at the Vancouver athletes village were inaccessible to wheelchair users.

“That’s news to me, I can’t really comment on it,” said IPC president Sir Philip Craven. “It could be something I would look into, it could be an error in design.”

The Vancouver Courier reported Wednesday that balconies in the $1.1 billion Southeast False Creek complex, which hosted Olympic athletes and officials in February, were built with curbs to prevent rainwater from leaking into suites. The curbs also block wheelchairs.

“I’ll tell you something now the vast majority of (Vancouver Paralympic) facilities have been produced in an incredibly accessible way,” Craven said. “It would not surprise me that most Paralympians get across that barrier and get on the balcony, if they wish to.”

A barrier of another kind was broken earlier Friday when the local CTV affiliate agreed to air the opening ceremony live in British Columbia. The two-hour pageant, however, won’t be seen until Saturday in the rest of the country.

“One of our four values is equality, if the ceremonies of the Olympics are televised live, then the ceremonies of the Paralympics should be televised live,” he said. “The ceremonies of the Paralympics are incredible shows, incredible events, the people of the nation need to see them.”

Asked what his reaction was when told it would not be seen live nationally, Craven said: “Not happy at all, full stop.”

Otherwise, Craven was beaming about Vancouver’s organization of the Paralympics.

“Things haven’t been as well set up as VANOC, in conjunction with the IPC, have set these Games up.”

Meanwhile, Craven rejected comments made earlier this week by founding IPC president Dr. Robert Steadward of Edmonton that the Winter Paralympics be held during the Winter Olympics to share resources and increase the profile of Paralympians.

“It’s not my idea of progress, we’ve got a good formula now with the Winter Games and Summer Games,” Craven said. “This is the way it is, and I don’t believe in changing formulae when they work.

“We believe that Paralympians compete at the Paralympics and there’s no real need for them to compete at the Olympics.”


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