Special Olympics in Kunming

If you didn’t know that Kunming was hosting the largest Games for the Disabled event in the entire country of China, you would probably be wondering why the local restaurants are all of a sudden over-crowded and the streets are even more frustratingly congested than normal. It has been a very interesting few days in the “City of Spring,” not only because the event itself is unique and fascinating but also because the buzzing of activity is contageous in a social conscioussness kind of way. If the city is normally “re nao,” the end of a long stretch of rainy days added to the feeling that every person in town was on the streets, eating the snack foods sold along the side of every road and absorbing the sunshine.

According to Xinhua News, the national press organization, there are over 83 million handicapped people in China. To be honest, at first glance it’s easy to get the impression that the number of handicapped or crippled people encountered on the streets is abnormally high. A huge number of these disabilities are the result of accidents that occur in what can be very dangerous and poorly managed work environments in China.

The Vice-Premier of China was in town today, to visit some of the athletes competing in the Games as well as to promote National Day of Handicapped People in China, which is observed today, May 20th. People have come from all over the country, and they are competing in events such as basketball for the blind, football for the deaf, wheel-chair volleyball, football for the cerebral palsy, and many others.  The Paralympics, held before the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, are also going to be held in Shanghai.

In line with what seems to be one of the national mantras put forth by the central government recently, the Vice Premier said that the protection of the rights of disabled persons, and of everyone for that matter, is essential for the building of the “Harmonious Society” that China is to be striving for.

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