Paralympic equipment designed to last

The Olympic aquatic center in Saint-Denis, which will host several events during the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, was built to facilitate accessibility for athletes and the public with disabilities.  This is the construction site, October 5, 2023.

Like a hemmed wave, shiny and blue in the night, the new Olympic Aquatic Center nearing completion emerges from the ground in Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis), opposite the Stade de France. “In addition to the 5,000 places spectacularly organized in a horseshoe shape around the pools, it is a model of accessibility for the public and athletes with disabilities, thanks to its construction on a single level, information in Braille, the guide dog reception area and adapted changing rooms », rejoices Ludivine Munos, responsible for integration within the Organizing Committee for the Paris 2024 Games and multi-medalist in para-swimming. An example among the eighteen competition sites and the numerous training centers which will host the twenty-two Paralympic disciplines of the Summer Olympics for the first time in France, in September 2024. The infrastructures will have already been used for the July events -August and will be reorganized. Everything will have been thought of in advance to benefit other audiences after the Olympics. Enough?

APF France handicap was quick to sound the alarm in January to warn of shortcomings, recalls Pascale Ribes, the president of the ociation: “In the initial design of the sites, there were a lot of places missing for people in wheelchairs, this seems to have since been corrected. But the transport problem remains, with nine adapted metro stations throughout the network. » And that’s not all, accommodation may be lacking because “the 3,000 standard rooms will not be enough for the 5,000 visitors in wheelchairs per day, especially since they will not be reserved for them automatically”she laments.

Solutions have partly been found. “During the Games, dedicated car parks near the sites, shuttle services and a fleet of a thousand wheelchair accessible taxis will be available”, ures Marie-Amélie Le Fur, president of the Paralympic Committee and Paralympic champion. If historic metro stations are difficult to transform in record time, “the improvements to 70% of bus stops on all lines are currently being carried out, by raising the sidewalks to bring them to the level of the access platforms, by limiting obstacles in the area for people in wheelchairs , or by guiding the route for people with a cane », adds Pierre Rabadan, deputy mayor of Paris in charge of sport, the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Seine. For the hotel industry, the situation remains complicated, “we can only make recommendations for the allocation of suitable rooms”, he admits. But he welcomes the efforts made to develop and equip the numerous sports sites involved in the Olympics.

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