The Beijing Olympic Games Organising Committee (BOCOG) described the 2008 Paralympic Games as "a catalyst for improving the cause of disabled people in China and the world".
In preparation for the Games, the host city invested some €62 million in installing and improving accessibility facilities in a country often criticised for its rejection of disabled people.
Sporting venues, the Olympic subway route and some of Beijing's most popular tourist attractions such as the Forbidden City, the Great Wall and a number of museums were equipped with facilities making them accessible for the disabled. In addition, public awareness campaigns on the issue were organised.
"Beijing has comprehensively pushed forward accessibility construction in key scenic spots, hotels, restaurants, banks and other urban public service facilities," said BOCOG's executive vice president and secretary general, Wang Wei, adding that barrier-free access was also guaranteed to a number of hospitals, buses and taxis.
"Wireless hearing aid and video sign language translation software for the participating athletes and other people with a disability are ready for all," he continued.
As for the media attention attracted by the Paralympics, Wei said that "there is a big gap" between these Games and the Olympics. While the Olympics involved some 30,000 media people, the number for the Paralympics is expected to be around 6,000, including some 2,500 journalists.
The EU's commissioner responsible for sport, Ján Figel', attended the opening of the Games, but no other high-level EU representatives were present, nor was there any polemic around high-level attendance as was the case with the Olympics.
The European Commission supports several disability-related activities "to promote equality of opportunities and to facilitate access to rights for all people with disabilities". A European Disability Strategy and an Action Plan 2004-2010 argue that sport plays an important role in promoting the integration of people with disabilities into society and calls for special efforts to ensure access to sports venues, infrastructure and activities for people with disabilities.