In 1948, Sir Ludwig Guttmann organised a sports competition involving World War II veterans with a spinal cord-related injury in Stoke Mandeville, England. Four years later, competitors from Holland joined the Games, and the international movement, now known as the Paralympic Movement, was born.
Olympic-style games for athletes with a disability were organised for the first time in Rome in 1960. In Toronto in 1976, other disability groups were added and the idea of merging together different disability groups for international sports competitions was born. In the same year, the first Paralympic Winter Games took place in Sweden.
On the same day as the London 1948 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, a German neuroscientist called Sir Ludwig Guttmann organised a sports competition for 16 injured World War II veterans at Stoke Mandeville in Great Britain.
The event at the rehabilitation hospital for people with spinal cord-related injuries soon caught on, and in 1952 injured veterans form the Netherlands took part.
Growing in popularity, the event developed into the first Paralympic Games, which were held in Rome, Italy, in 1960. Taking place soon after the conclusion of the Olympic Games, the Olympic-style games for athletes with a disability attracted 400 participants from 23 countries, who competed in eight sports.
Taking place every four years in the same year as the Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games have since grown into one of the world’s biggest sport events, with a track record for driving social inclusion.
Following the Tokyo 1964 Games, the Paralympics were held in different cities from the Olympic Games, including the first Paralympic Winter Games, which were held in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden in 1976.
This is until the Seoul 1988 Summer Games and Albertville 1992 Winter Games, when the two Games once again came together, with the Paralympics taking place shortly after the Olympic Games in the same venues.
On 19 June 2001, an agreement was signed between the IOC and the IPC aimed at protecting the organisation of the Paralympic Games and securing the practice of "one bid, one city".
This means that cities looking to host the Olympic Games automatically have to include the Paralympics as part of their bid. This agreement came into effect with the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, followed by the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.
Since the Salt Lake City 2002 Games, one organising committee has been responsible for hosting both the Olympic and the Paralympic Games. Athletes from both Games live in the same village and enjoy the same catering services, medical care and facilities. Ticketing, technology and transport systems for the Olympic Games are seamlessly extended to the Paralympics.
Today, the Paralympic Games are the world’s third biggest sport event in terms of ticket sales; only the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup sell more.
The Rio 2016 Paralympics attracted 4,328 athletes from 159 countries, who competed in 22 sports. An Independent Paralympic Athletes team featuring two refugee athletes also took part. The Games attracted a record cumulative TV audience of 4.1 billion people in more than 150 countries, while 2.15 million tickets were sold.
Ahead of the Games, the city of Rio invested in improving infrastructure so that it was accessible for the Paralympics and future generations. This included making tourist destinations accessible for all and the development of the Bus Rapid Transport system, which enables residents and visitors of all abilities to get around the city.
The Brazilian government also invested in the creation of a world-leading Paralympic Training Centre for the Brazilian Paralympic Committee in São Paulo. Providing world class facilities for 15 sports, the centre is used all year round by Brazilian athletes and National Paralympic Committees from around the world.
South Korea staged record-breaking Paralympic Winter Games in March 2018. Featuring a record 567 athletes from 49 countries, the Games were viewed by cumulative TV audience of 2.02 billion – more than ever before – and a record 343,000 spectators.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is the global governing body of the Paralympic Movement, and is based in Bonn, Germany.
The IPC organises the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games and serves as the International Federation for 10 sports, for which it supervises and coordinates the World Championships and other competitions.
Founded on 22 September 1989, the IPC aspires to help achieve a more inclusive society for people with an impairment through Para sport. Its vision is to enable Para athletes to achieve sporting excellence and inspire and excite the world.
The IPC is a membership-based organisation with more than 200 members, composed of National Paralympic Committees (NPCs), International Federations, Regional Organisations and International Sports Organisations for the Disabled (IOSDs).Getty Images
The IPC aims to promote the Paralympic values of courage, determination, inspiration and equality.
In March 2018, the IPC and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) signed a long-term agreement through to 2032 that will support the Paralympic Movement. Building on previous agreements that date back to 2001, this new agreement will see the IOC and IPC cooperate, with the aim of:
- Increasing the visibility of the Paralympic Games and enhancing the Paralympic brand;
- Deepening existing cooperation, specifically on the implementation of Olympic Agenda 2020, the strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement;
- Ensuring the financial stability and long-term viability of the IPC, the Paralympic Games and the Paralympic Movement.
For more information, please visit www.paralympic.org or
Google +: Google.com/+Paralympics
The IPC organises, supervises and coordinates the Paralympic Games. Its enables Paralympic Athletes to achieve Sporting Excellence and Inspire and Excite the World.
International Paralympic Committee