About the Paralympic Games

About the Paralympic Games

About the Paralympic Games

The Paralympic Games, featuring athletes with an impairment, take place shortly after every Olympic Games in the same host city. The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games featured 22 sports with 4,328 athletes from 159 nations and regions participating.

In order to participate in the Paralympic Games, athletes must meet strict standards set by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). The level of the athletes' performance has continued to improve over the years and the number of qualified athletes has been steadily increasing. For example, in the Summer Games held in Athens, 448 Olympic records and 304 world records were set.

The History of the Paralympic Games

The history of the Paralympic Games dates back to 1948, when Sir Ludwig Guttmann, a physician working at a hospital in Stoke Mandeville, England, organised an archery competition involving World War II veterans with spinal cord injuries as part of their rehabilitation programme. In 1952 the event became an international competition, and from the 1960 Games in Rome they have been held in the same host country as the Olympic Games. Since the 1988 Games in Seoul, they have been held shortly after the Olympic Games using the same venues and facilities.

The Parallel Olympic Games

Although in the beginning the Paralympic Games were designed for rehabilitation purposes, the event developed into a more elite sports competition. Athletes taking part in the Games now represent not only those needing the aid of wheelchairs but a more diverse spectrum of impairments, thus the term Paralympic Games is now interpreted as meaning "parallel Olympic Games" or "the other Olympic Games".

Cooperative Relationship with the Olympic Games

In the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games the IOC and the IPC reached a basic agreement that the Paralympic Games will always take place shortly after the Olympic Games, reaffirming the cooperative relationship between the two organisations. The "parallel Olympic Games" live up to its name and continues to develop.