By Geryl Ogilvy
KUCHING, Nov 29: The Sarawak government is looking to turn the state capital into a disabled-friendly city as Kuching plays host to World Para Swimming Championship 2019.
Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah today called on all hospitality and service industry players to upgrade their facilities to make them accessible to disabled people.
He said all stakeholders, including hotels, restaurants and food premises as well as transportation and logistics, must be equipped with disabled-friendly facilities.
The championship, scheduled from July 29 to Aug 4, is expected to attract some 800 athletes and 400 officials from 80 countries.
He anticipated a big turnout of world-class athletes, considering that the World Para Swimming Championship in Kuching would be the last qualifying round for para swimmers to qualify for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.
“There is much work that needs to be done on getting our city ready to receive the first delegates and country, which we expect to arrive as early as April 2019 for climatising.
“Kuching 2019 World Para Swimming Championship aims to become a benchmark by providing the best facilities and support for para swimmers, but this would not become a reality without the support given by both local and international industry players,” Abdul Karim said at the event website launch here today.
He added that evaluation of infrastructure and logistics had been reviewed in preparation for the event. Renovation work would be carried out at the venue — Pandelela Rinong Aquatic Centre. This would include scoreboard upgrade, disabled-friendly facilities as well as media and broadcast facilities.
“We will liaise with the hoteliers and other relevant stakeholders to improve their facilities. This includes transportation and logistics, where we might source for buses with ramps to transport athletes.
“We must show great hospitality, provide excellent services to the athletes and the disabled community on a whole,” he emphasised.
Assistant Minister for Youth and Sports Datuk Snowdan Lawan, Malaysia Paralympic Council deputy president Ng Keng Chuan and Sarawak Sports Corporation chief executive officer Dr Ong Kong Swee were present at the ceremony. — DayakDaily