- 2 Sep 08, 10:08 AM
Within 36 hours of the Olympic Games closing ceremony the flags in the city of Beijing were changed to Paralympic ones.
The message that I have seen in Beijing is that things happen here fast. I came here a couple of years ago when the foundations of the athletes' village were being dug and it seemed impossible that anything would be ready.
If the rumours are true, in the last two years there have been 200 new hotels built in Beijing and in the past six months many underground stations have been made accessible for disabled people.
Since my first visit to Beijing there have been many dramatic changes, not just physical ones, but more attitudinal ones.
Last time, there was barely a dropped kerb in sight, and now there is more tactile paving than I have ever seen in my life.
I was out and about in the city a couple of days ago and ramps that weren't there two weeks ago were appearing in shops.
What I hope is that they don't disappear as soon as the Games leave town, and there will be a lasting legacy, but from what I have seen over here, the learning curve is steep and what they learn sticks.
There have also been considerably fewer people staring at me in the street. This time, the attention has focused on my blonde blue-eyed six-year-old daughter, who had an average of 25 people a day taking her picture.
People literally stop in the street to look at her or touch her hair, something that she was incredibly patient with, seeing as she won't let me brush her hair before a school day!
In the last two weeks there have also been Paralympic adverts on TV, programmes showing the technicalities behind wheelchair racing and other sports, and major coverage of the Paralympic torch relay.
But still I have this inkling that the city doesn't really know what to expect.
There appeared to be a slight lack of international support at the Olympics, so will the local supporters understand the competition and will the stadiums be full? Let us not forget that some of the sessions of the Olympics were not full.
But I do get the sense here that there will be strong encouragement for local support.
In Seoul in 1988, the local churches were brought in to "support", having the same seats every day, but different countries' flags appeared to be on rotation.
It didn't feel patronising at the time, or that they were coming out to "cheer on the poor people". It felt more like education.
I have no doubt that Saturday's opening ceremony will be sold out (it seems impossible to get tickets) but we have just a few more days to wait to see if they can also fill the venues.
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