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Museums and Sites to be Accessible to People with Special Needs

A special inter-ministerial meeting on the Olympic Games last month reiterated promises to render Athens more compatible with the needs of physically disabled people ahead of next September’s Paralympics.

The government’s press minister, Telemachos Hytiris, told journalists efforts would be made to have most of the infrastructure in place by the end of this year, and said the government would like to secure 25 million euros in funding for another four Greek cities where Olympics events will be staged.

But, eight months after the government first announced plans to make the Acropolis accessible to handicapped visitors, Mr. Hytiris was unable to announce anything more specific than that “a study is being conducted” on the matter.

He added, however, that accessibility would extend to “museums, archaeological sites and areas of general cultural interest,” as well as to the new tram and urban rail networks, which are scheduled for delivery in April and June, respectively. The metro is already fully accessible, while work is under progress on the Kifissia-Piraeus electric railway.

“The Paralympics will be a litmus test for our culture and our sensitivity,” Mr. Hytiris said. “For us, they are as important as the Olympics.”

He also promised that, in a year’s time, a new fleet of taxis exclusively catering to the needs of handicapped people will be in operation, along with some 400 new buses and minibuses allowing access to the disabled. And the government will urge most Athenian hotels to install facilities for the disabled.

Olympics competition venues in Athens are user-friendly for people with disabilities and mobility difficulties, the physiotherapy manager for the Sydney Paralympics, Mark Brown, said during a recent visit to Athens.

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