During the Russian championship in athletics among people with lesions of the musculoskeletal system in Cheboksary, a scandal erupted. A video appeared on social networks of two athletes climbing the stairs of the hotel along with strollers. The Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) called the lack of a ramp in a particular hotel “not the worst situation” and expressed the opinion that it would be resolved, but the Chuvash prosecutor’s office began checking the incident. According to one of the tournament participants, Alexei Ashapatov, after the scandal broke out, the hotel provided two people to help the wheelchair guests. As six-time Paralympic champion Sergey Shilov noted, despite the fact that over the past 10-15 years the situation with the accessibility of the environment for athletes with disabilities in the country has improved, some institutions do not want to spend money on installing the right ramps.
The Russian Athletics Championship among persons with lesions of the musculoskeletal system, which is taking place these days in Cheboksary, was overshadowed by a scandal. Residents of the city filmed how two Paralympians climb the stairs to the hotel right on the wheelchairs. For lack of a special ramp, they were forced to literally climb the stairs.
The video was instantly shared on social networks and caused a serious resonance in the local media. People wondered why young athletes are forced to climb onto the porch in this way.
The Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) promptly responded to the incident. The vice-president of the organization, Olga Semyonova, made a rather peaceful statement. She called the story of the lack of a proper ramp “not the worst.” According to her, the hotel promised to fix all the shortcomings, and there were no problems in other hotels that accepted the participants of the competition.
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“We have held tournaments here many times and will continue to do so. Of course, there are difficulties in Cheboksary, but where in the country are they not? Name at least one region where people with musculoskeletal disorders would not experience something similar. Can the RCC, for its part, somehow influence? Committee President Pavel Rozhkov raised this issue at the last presidential council, the president promised to help with the Accessible Environment federal program, – quotes the words of the R-Sport functionary.
Semyonova also assured: the authorities of Chuvashia provided the organizers with all the necessary assistance, and the local stadium is the best in the country for Paralympians and meets all international standards.
“Believe me, not every region can hold such competitions. Therefore, we are deeply grateful to Chuvashia for the opportunity, we have wonderful relations, ”she added.
Irina Gromova, the head coach of the Russian national team in cross-country skiing and biathlon among athletes with a musculoskeletal disorder, spoke much harsher. She confirmed that the hotel promised to solve the problem with the ramp and noted that helpful and friendly staff work there. But, in her opinion, the city is absolutely not adapted for the movement of people with disabilities.
“On the ramp, if you watched the video, it’s impossible to climb on your own. Even a woman with a baby stroller will not be able to pass there. And it’s the same in the city. Pharmacies, shops, cafes – you will not be able to get almost anywhere. Or we just walk along the sidewalk and cannot cross the road because of the curbs. After all, we have the Accessible Environment program, we must follow it. I myself am ready to participate, to help, ”the specialist complained.
She added that Cheboksary was chosen to host the championship “not from a good life”, although the stadium, according to her, is really beautiful here and is fully equipped for the needs of the Paralympians.
“As for the current situation, it does not apply to the organizers of the tournament, but to the hotel management and local authorities. We made an offer to help, at first it was perceived negatively, but now this information has appeared on all local sites. We saw an application for a ramp dated May 10, I hope it will be done next year. But I repeat, this is a nationwide problem that needs to be addressed,” Gromova stressed.
The scandal drew the attention of local authorities. So, the head of the city, Oleg Kortunov, noted that he had not received any relevant complaints, but promised to study the information. And the prosecutor’s office of the Kalininsky district of the city of Cheboksary organized an inspection and intends to take action in case of violations.
“It follows from the video that the ramp, located on the stairs, is set at a large angle and is actually not suitable for self-lifting of persons with lesions of the musculoskeletal system … The specific circumstances of the events will be established, an assessment will be made of compliance with the requirements of the law on the accessibility of the social infrastructure facility for people with disabilities,” the press service of the Chuvash Prosecutor’s Office reported.
To figure out the conditions under which athletes live in Cheboksary, RT contacted four-time Paralympic champion Alexei Ashapatov, who is also participating in the tournament. According to him, everything in the city is well adapted for people with disabilities, and the ill-fated hotel should rather be considered an exception.
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“Some hotels, unfortunately, were inattentive to the arrival of the Paralympians. The ramps installed there do not meet the standards, and it is easier for the guys to climb the stairs. I hope they draw the appropriate conclusions from this story. I think there will be no such problems at the next Russian championship,” Ashapatov said.
He also said that after the scandal erupted, the hotel management took action. Now two people help the guests in wheelchairs to go up and down. But the athlete called this measure controversial and dangerous.
“This is not the best way out of the situation, because in order to help a person in a wheelchair, certain experience and skills are required. Otherwise, if you start lifting it incorrectly, you can cause serious injury, ”Ashapatov explained.
He also assured: in general, domestic tournaments for athletes with a lesion of the musculoskeletal system are organized at the highest level and problems rarely arise.
In turn, six-time Paralympic champion Sergei Shilov noted that even 10-15 years ago, the conditions for the movement of athletes with disabilities both in Cheboksary and in the whole country were much worse. He also urged not to blame the RCC for what happened.
“The fact is that too many people came to Cheboksary. They all live in different places. The hotel, which is located right next to the stadium, is equipped with an excellent ramp. Although, when I was still performing, there were also difficulties. I had to climb the stairs and put a special shield on the porch in order to climb it in wheelchairs. Now there is no such thing and close. But it so happened that some athletes stayed in the very hotel where the ramp is suitable only for suitcases, ”Shilov explained.
According to him, according to the federal program “Accessible Environment”, all hotels are required to install special ramps, but in buildings built under the USSR, this is often not possible. And some simply do not want to spend money and are looking for the cheapest options that do not help solve the problem.
“The difficulty also lies in the fact that people, in principle, do not understand what ramps should be, and make them simpler and cheaper. I hope that the scandal that has flared up will lead to the fact that they will find a way out of the situation. Even on the video you can see: on this staircase you can put a wonderful ramp that will not spoil the appearance. But not everyone wants to give money, although it is necessary, ”summed up Shilov.