SOCHI, March 7 (Xinhua) -- Russia has fully prepared for the Sochi Winter Paralympics, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Philip Craven said Friday.
Craven, during a press conference ahead of the opening ceremony, praised the Russian organizers' constant efforts for the Winter Games, expressing his high expectations for the athletes' performances during the games.
Talking about the Paralympics' possible benefits for the disabled people, Craven said he believed it would change perceptions in people's minds "instantaneously from what may have been a semi-negative perception to very positive."
"I like to quote Paralympic athlete Donna Ritchie, the captain of women's wheelchair basketball team back in Sydney 2000: 'Paralympians don't have time to worry about what doesn't work they just maximize what does,'" he noted.
According to him, Russian officials were talking about how they created a barrier-free environment, "and now we need to go on and create barrier-free minds. That is how para-athletes support the UN convention and really transform it into energy and say anything is possible," Craven noted.
During the same press conference, Dmitry Chernyshenko, President of the Sochi Organizing Committee, said the goal for organizers was to "stage the best Paralympic Winter Games ever," the games for athletes to enjoy, have fun, and perform to their best.
As for the venues, Chernyshenko said they are "state-of-the-art, purpose-built to cater to the highest possible level in a barrier-free" environment.
Chernyshenko noted that a record of 45 delegations from around the world are already in Sochi for the games, and everything is ready for the athletes to take the center stage.
"Winter Games and now we're fully focused on delivering an equal or higher Paralympic Games. We're looking forward to an amazing and incredible show tonight, for brilliant victories in the coming days, which will no doubt inspire the world," he added.
Konstantin Ernst, the director of the game's opening ceremony, said the theme of the ceremony is about "breaking the ice." It praised the strength of the human spirit and shows how important to break barriers.
"It's the idea of the fragility of life, of human relationships, of health, as well as being together," Ernst said.
The opening ceremony will take place at the Fisht Stadium at Friday night.
The Sochi Paralympic Games are slated for March 7-16 with 72 medal events across five sports to be contested, namely alpine skiing, biathlon, cross country skiing, ice sledge hockey and wheelchair curling.
By Thursday, some 547 athletes from 45 countries and regions have confirmed their participation in the games, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said.