Tue, Aug 25, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Ma to attend opening of Deaflympics as president

READY? A councilor questioned the city government's preparedness for the Games, saying the sidewalks around the stadium were not handicapped-friendly

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei City Councilor Chuang Jui-hsiung points at driftwood and garbage on the beach in Green Bay, Taipei County, yesterday. With the beach to be used for the beach volleyball tournament during the Deaflympics next month, Chuang criticized the city government and the organizing committee for not being ready for the Games.

PHOTO: LIN SHU-HUI, TAIPEI TIMES

The Taipei Deaflympics Organizing Committee said yesterday that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) would attend the opening ceremony on Sept. 5.

A government official said the president would be once again attending an opening ceremony of an international sports event in his capacity as leader of the Republic of China.

Ma attended the July 16 opening of the World Games as president of the nation. Chinese athletes boycotted the opening ceremony.

Earlier yesterday, a city councilor panned Taipei City Government’s “readiness” to host the international event, saying that less than two weeks before the start of the Deaflympics, the sidewalks around the Taipei Municipal Stadium were still not handicapped-friendly.

To prepare for the 21st Summer Deaflympics, which will be held from Sept. 5 to Sept. 15, the city government began the NT$2.5 billion (US$76.3 million) project to reconstruct the Taipei Municipal Stadium in November 2006. The 23,638m² stadium, which was first built in 1956, is located next to the Taipei Arena.

The city government has designed one entrance for the physically challenged on the side of Dunhua N Road (敦化北路) and two entrances on Beining Road (北寧路).

The entrance on Beining Road, however, does not have a wheelchair ramp. Because the road is narrow, there are trees and street lamps in the middle of the sidewalk.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Chen Yu-mei (陳玉梅) said the road was difficult enough for able-bodied people, not to mention the physically challenged.

“It is nice that the city government has built an entrance for the physically challenged, but it is so poorly designed that the facility is nothing but an empty shell,” she said. “It is ironic because the city is hosting an international sports event for the hearing impaired.”

With a facility like this, Chen asked how can the city tell the world that Taipei is ready for such an international event?

The city government has also ordered motorists to park their scooters elsewhere. Since Aug. 1, drivers have been banned from parking motorcycles on Beining Road from Bade Rd Sec 3, to Nanjing E Rd Sec 4.

The city’s New Construction Office yesterday promised to examine the area within a week and make appropriate adjustments before the opening.

The Parks and Street Lights Office said it had sent out a request to relocate the street lamps and would begin moving them when it has obtained permission.

The Taipei Deaflympics mark the first time that the event will be held in Asia. More than 3,900 athletes from 101 countries are expected to attend. The 10-day event will be held at 37 venues in Taipei City, Taipei County, Hsinchu County and Taoyuan County.

Organizers said half of the tickets had been sold and they hoped to sell out all tickets two weeks after the promotional events are held.

An exhibition organized by the National Association of the Deaf will be held inside the Taipei Arena during the 10-day event. It will include the history of local associations of the hearing impaired, education of the hearing impaired, the origin and development of sign languages, evolution of hearing aids and artworks by hearing impaired artists.

Other activities organized by the association, including dances, mime and a model contest, will be held outside the south gate of the Taipei Arena from Sept. 6 to Sept. 13.

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