About the Paralympic Games

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 07: Clodoaldo Silva of Brazil carries the Paralympic torch during the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at Maracana Stadium on September 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 07: Clodoaldo Silva of Brazil carries the Paralympic torch during the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at Maracana Stadium on September 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images)
2016 Getty Images

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 athlete 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 the Paralympic Games were originally designed for rehabilitation purposes, the event has developed into an elite sports competition. Now athletes taking part in the Games represent, not only those needing the aid of wheelchairs, but a more diverse spectrum of impairments. As such, the term Paralympic Games is now interpreted to mean "parallel Olympic Games" or "the other Olympic Games".

Cooperative relationship with the Olympic Games

In the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games the IOC and 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" lives up to its name and continues to develop.