This week the third Paralympic Games Liaison Committee meeting between the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and ATHENS 2004, the organising committee of the Paralympic Games, was held in Athens, Greece.
Significant progress has been made since the last Committee meeting eight months ago.
"The progress made is very encouraging. We now have less than 600 days to go to the opening of the Paralympic Games and we are entering into a critical phase,"
said François Terranova, Chairperson of the IPC Games Liaison Committee.
During three days of working sessions, ATHENS 2004 presented the status of preparations in 15 sectors: accommodation, accreditation, doping control, ceremonies, education, health services, information technology, marketing, the Paralympic Village, press services, sports, tickets, venue operations and work projects. Good progress had been made in many areas, especially in transportation, accommodation and health services. The preparations for the Paralympic Village are advancing well and the IPC is satisfied with the present progress in making sure that the Village will meet all necessary requirements for the Paralympic teams.
The IPC commends the good co-operation existing between the various Greek Ministries and ATHENS 2004 with regard to the Paralympic Games preparations. On Monday of this week, the Greek Minster of Culture announced that also the Acropolis will be made accessible. Furthermore, the Greek government has introduced new legislation on accessibility of public buildings, with non-compliance of this legislation resulting in penalties.
Already now 110 National Paralympic Committees have confirmed their participation in the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games, in which around 4,000 athletes are expected to compete in 20 sports at 19 venues.
There are still some areas for the Paralympic Games which need to be further addressed such as the promotion of the Games, finalisation of the budget and the participation of the information technology partners. However, the IPC is confident that ATHENS 2004 will take all necessary action.
The Paralympic Games are the equivalent of the Olympics for athletes with a disability. They will take place from September 17 to 28 2004, using the same venues and facilities as the Olympic Games.