Hangzhou, 10 Oct (ZXS) -- The Asian Para Games is not just a sports event

- Interview with Majid Rashid, President of the Asian Paralympic Committee

Written by Wang Yifei Bao Mengni

The Hangzhou Asian Para Games will open on October 10. As the first Asian Para Games held after the epidemic, what significance does this grand event mean for the development of disabled sports in Asia and exchanges and mutual learning among Asian civilizations? And how will it push East and West to build a more inclusive society? Majid Rashid, president of the Asian Paralympic Committee who will attend the opening ceremony of the Hangzhou Asian Para Games, recently gave an exclusive interview to the China News Agency's "East-West Question" to make relevant interpretations.

Majid Rashid was interviewed by a reporter from the China News Agency. Photo by China News Agency reporter Wang Gang

Asian Para Committee President Majid Rashid: How can the Asian Para Games promote a more inclusive society between East and West? Source: China News Network

The following is a summary of the interview:

China News Agency: Since 2007, you have visited China more than <> times and have come to Hangzhou many times. What do you think of China and Hangzhou?

Majid Rashid: It's great to be in China again and again. Since 2007, I have visited many Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, etc., and each time I can find this beautiful country growing by leaps and bounds in different fields. China is both fashionable and successful. After communicating with the Chinese people, I believe that China's development is precisely the success written by the people, and the experience is worth sharing with the world. For example, China's performance in the Paralympic Games is among the best, we are all proud of China, and the successful development of China's disabled sports has become a world model and is worth learning from many countries and regions.

On October 10, the 19th Asian Para Games in Hangzhou ushered in the first competition day. In the men's wheelchair basketball group stage, China (white) defeated the Philippines (blue) 4-83. The picture shows the players of both teams fighting in the game. Photo by China News Agency reporter Wang Gang

Hangzhou is a beautiful and warm city. On the second day in Hangzhou, I walked around the city and experienced the barrier-free environment in my wheelchair. I was delighted to find that the road was smooth. Compared to the first time I visited, it has changed a lot and become more convenient. The most important thing is that even in the crowded business district, no one is staring at me, and everyone has a correct understanding of the disabled. In addition, what I experienced in Hangzhou was what impressed me about China – the hospitality of the people here. I don't feel like I'm in another country, I don't feel like a stranger, it's like home here.

China News Agency: In the 13 years from the Guangzhou Asian Para Games to the Hangzhou Asian Para Games, what progress has been made in the development of disabled sports in Asia?

Majid Rashid: In 2010, we hosted the first Asian Para Games in Guangzhou, which was an important step in the development of sports for the disabled. With the joint efforts of everyone, the Asian Para Games has been held for the fourth time. The future belongs to young athletes, and we have always been following the Youth Games. Now the Asian Youth Paralympic Games are also being held, and are being transmitted from Japan, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries to more countries and regions, which shows the progress of Asia.

Looking back over the past 13 years, Asian disabled sports have made remarkable achievements, such as the development of disabled sports in many Asian countries and regions, and many young athletes ranked in the world's top 8. Asia is the largest continent in the world, and its six regions are like "engines", and if all regions move, then the "spaceship" of Asia will sail towards the future. There is no "ceiling" for the development of disabled sports, and we still need to do more to promote disabled sports and promote more projects.

On October 10, the slogan of the Hangzhou Asian Para Games was hung outside the stadium of the Huanglong Sports Center. Photo by China News Agency reporter Wang Gang

China News Agency: The Hangzhou Asian Para Games is the first Asian Para Games to be held after the epidemic. In your opinion, does this make the Hangzhou Asian Para Games more special?

Majid Rashid: Due to the pandemic, countries around the world have faced many challenges, such as the problem of "how to arrange the event", which is very difficult, and some countries or host cities have simply cancelled the competition. But Hangzhou did not give up, and the city seriously fulfilled its mission. Even if it is postponed for a year, even if there are many complex issues to be resolved, everyone is still moving forward with confidence towards the goal of "running the Asian Games and Asian Para Games well". It can be said that the organization of the Hangzhou Asian Para Games and the leadership and responsibility of Chinese governments at all levels to the Hangzhou Asian Para Games are amazing. I believe that the process of overcoming various difficulties will leave a strong mark in the history of the development of disabled sports. Just as disability sports are challenging, we have to overcome physical disabilities and struggle with everyday circumstances, but everyone's hearts are full of energy and positivity.

On October 10, the 20th Asian Para Games Torch Relay in Hangzhou was launched at Fuyang District, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. The picture shows the fourth torchbearer Peng Chao (left) and the fifth torchbearer Li Weier (right) posing with the torch. Photo by Xiao Jian, reporter of China News Agency

In this context, we also hope that the Hangzhou Asian Para Games can further promote people-to-people ties in various countries and regions. Sport can convey the idea of peace across national and other differences. Although Asian countries and regions are different, we are all on the same continent, and we hope that people in the south and north of the world can become part of the big family. I believe that sport can most quickly enhance exchanges between different countries and regions.

China News Agency: The Asian Para Games are about to open, but at the same time our world is still accompanied by poverty, war, terrorism and so on. What message do you think the Asian Para Games can send to people around the world while competing in sports? How will the Asian Para Olympic Committee further promote the building of an "Asian community with a shared future"?

Majid Rashid: The purpose of developing sports is not limited to the sport itself. Sports is not only about competitions and medals, we can see more meaning behind it, and encourage more countries and regions to participate and unite.

In December 2014, I was elected President of the Asian Paralympic Committee. I came from disability, grew up in sports, and believe in the power of solidarity. Five months after our election, we launched a project in which representatives of the Paralympic Committees from all Asian countries and regions travelled to Abu Dhabi to jointly develop a plan for the development of disability sport in Asia. In the past few days in Hangzhou, I have also received representatives of the Paralympic Committees from many countries and regions in Asia. During the Hangzhou Asian Para Games, we will also hold many meetings to discuss close and in-depth cooperation. I have always believed that all of Asia should help each other, that everyone should be together, not one person behind. In Asia, there are fast-growing countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as countries that still need help. In this family, countries work together, for example, the development gains of East Asia can also benefit the countries and athletes of West Asia.

We will work with the Paralympic Committees of various countries and regions to put everyone on the "train" of development, which is consistent with the concept of "a community with a shared future for mankind" initiated and advocated by China. I hope that Hangzhou will not only be the venue of this Asian Para Games, but also a city leading to the future. This is not only a competition, but also not only about the 22 competitions, but also creates more possibilities.

On October 10, the Chinese sports delegation took a group photo. On the same day, the opening ceremony of Hangzhou Asian Para Games Village and the welcome ceremony of the Chinese sports delegation were held, marking the official operation of the Asian Para Games Village. Photo by China News Agency reporter Wang Gang

China News Agency: Regarding the development of the cause of persons with disabilities, you have repeatedly stressed the need to build a "more inclusive society." How can this inclusivity be better reflected in the future?

Majid Rashid: An equal community, where everyone, including people with disabilities, has the right to health plans, education programs, access to community infrastructure, and people with disabilities will be more independent. When all facilities in the community are accessible, people with disabilities will not always need help from others. For example, there is a barrier-free ramp in front of a building, and people with disabilities can go upstairs without the help of others, which is the embodiment of inclusiveness. This time in Hangzhou, I am very happy to see that Hangzhou Asian Para Games Village has created a more inclusive barrier-free environment, which deserves to be given "five stars".

Sport is an opportunity to build a more inclusive society. In my case, I met different friends because of sports, and everyone trusted each other and achieved each other. There is no difference between disabled and able-bodied people in sports, and everyone loves sports, life, and family equally. We promote sports competitions for the disabled to show that people with disabilities can also create unexpected results. We firmly believe that in a friendly social environment, people with disabilities can also demonstrate their abilities and contribute to the country and society. In the future, achieving this goal will require countries and regions to gradually adjust and improve in terms of rights protection, laws, regulations, and policies. (End)

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Majid Rashid. Photo by China News Agency reporter Wang Gang

Majid Rashid was elected President of the Asian Paralympic Committee in 2014 and has served ever since.