IPC lauds Acropolis lift plan

The International Paralympic Committee yesterday praised a decision to build an elevator for the Acropolis, finally making one of the world’s most famous ancient sites accessible to people with disabilities. «It’s a good idea that the Acropolis will be accessible,» IPC spokeswoman Miriam Wilkens said. «They said they would have a solution to solve the complicated matter.» Greek officials said the elevator was part of a broader effort to make the capital more accessible during the August 13-29 Olympics and September 17-28 Paralympics. «We can say it is an innovative move,» said Yiannis Polichroniou, the official in charge of the Culture Ministry’s department for accessibility to monuments. «There are efforts, wherever possible, to have access for disabled people.» Polichroniou told The Associated Press that in the past, people with disabilities had to be carried up to the Acropolis. The elevator, which will resemble those used at construction sites, will be installed at a second entrance to the Acropolis and lift people to an area near the ancient Erechtheion, Polichroniou said. The decision to build it was made last week. The Erechtheion, located in the northern part of the Acropolis, is one of the site’s better-known monuments, with a distinctive porch supported by statues of young women. Although temporary, the elevator will remain after the Games and will eventually be replaced by a permanent lift. The IPC has previously complained about Athens’s poor access for disabled people. The criticism prompted the government to budget an estimated US$255 million to build ramps, repair sidewalks, and improve access. Parliament has also mandated new building codes and provisions for the handicapped, but officials say the city is still very inaccessible for disabled people. Wilkens said if the government keeps up the pace of construction, «we are quite confident the venues and everything that concerns the Paralympics will be in place.»