We need to get off our high horse on this. As someone who has a family member in a wheelchair, I can tell you first hand how poorly our own country treats the disabled. Just try and get a taxi in NYC in a wheelchair! The fact that NBC doesn't even bother airing a single hour of this event live or taped
should tell you what we think of people with disability in our country -- forget 2nd class citizens, NBC would rather pretend they don't even exist! And no one in America even cares enough to complaint! So STFU already will ya?!
As for China, this is exactly why it is great to have the Paralympic games there. It brings on awareness in their society and hopefully will help remove some of the social stigma associated with physical disabilities.
Read this great article in the NY Times:
The Starting Line: The Benefits of the Paralympics
In most cases it’s arguable whether or not a big sports event provides long-term social benefits to the city or country that plays host to it. But there isn’t much argument when it comes to the Beijing Paralympics, which already have brought great social and practical improvements for the disabled in China.
China was a place where in Maoist times the word used to refer to the disabled was “deficient” or “useless,” and vestiges of that attitude lingered on until quite recently. But as John Vause of CNN International points out in this video report (scroll down to “Beijing Paralympics”), Beijing is now full of newly built wheelchair-accessible facilities — and perhaps more important, the disabled themselves in China are newly out, visible and proud. Xie Yan, a producer at a Beijing radio station for the disabled who lost a leg to bone cancer, tells Vause that he spent years at home, unable to face the outside world. Now it’s different; every employee at the station where he works has a disability.
The torch relay in Beijing on Friday. (AP/Andy Wong)Certainly the Paralympic torch relay has done much to impart a sense of dignity and pride to the disabled in China, as torchbearers with various disabilities have very visibly proceeded across the country. The relay made it to Beijing on Friday (see if you can get the video report on this CCTV web page to open), where 70 disabled torchbearers will be among those carry the flame to the Bird’s Nest, highlighting the Games’ theme of “transcendence, equality and integration.”
Slogans aside, however, many see the Paralympics having a positive impact on China. “This will be profound,” said Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan, who carried the torch in Beijing on Friday to represent the city that will play host to the 2010 Winter Paralympics, and who is himself a quadriplegic. “This will be the watershed moment where people with disabilities take their place in Chinese society.”
I just watched the Opening Ceremony and was moved beyond believe. They did an amazing job incorporating many people with various disabilities into the performances. The dance by the hearing impaired, the blind piano player, the dancing hands, the torch lighting by the wheelchair athlete who pulled himself all the way up with encouragement from the crowd
! Everything is so sublimely beautiful and inspiring! Also like that they allow the athletes to come in first and enjoy all the performances, they should've done that with the Olympics OC. I like this as much as the Olympics OC. It's more intimate, relaxed and heartfelt. Well done again Beijing!!