History Of Organised games for the disabled
Photo of Louise Sauvage lightning the cauldron during the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Paralympic GamesThe first Games for athletes with a disability were held in 1948 in Stoke Mandeville, England. On the day of the Opening Ceremony of the 1948 Olympic Games in London, the Stoke Mandeville Games were launched and the first competition for wheelchair athletes was organised.
Four years later, athletes from the Netherlands joined the Games; thus 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, immediately after the Olympic Games. They are considered the first Paralympic Games. About 400 athletes from 23 countries competed in 8 sports, 6 of which are still included in the Paralympic Competition Programme (Archery, Swimming, Fencing, Basketball, Table tennis and Athletics).
Since then Paralympic Games have been organised every four years. The Paralympic Games have always been held in the same year as the Olympic Games.
Photo Showing an athlete standing by the Atlanta Paralympic Games EmblemOther disability groups were added in Toronto, Canada in 1976 and the idea was conceived of merging together different disability groups for international sport competitions. In the same year, the first Paralympic Winter Games took place in Sweden.
In 1988, the Seoul Paralympic Summer Games marked a significant change, as both Olympic and Paralympic Games were held at the same venues. Since then the Paralympic Games have always taken place at the same venues as the Olympic Games.
Since 1960, eleven (11) Paralympic Summer and seven (7) Paralympic Winter Games have been organised.
Photo of the Opening Ceremony in Atlanta The 11th Paralympic Summer Games were held very successfully in 2000 in Sydney, Australia, and the 8th Paralympic Winter Games were held in March 2002, in Salt Lake City, U.S.A.
The Paralympic Games have evolved into a major sports event, second only to the Olympic Games.
Paralympic sports in Greece started to develop in the seventies and the first Greek athlete participated in the Paralympic Games in 1976.
Year City Participants
1960 I. Rome, Italy 400 athletes from 23 countries
1964 II. Tokyo, Japan 390 athletes from 22 countries
1968 III. Tel Aviv, Israel 750 athletes from 29 countries
1972 IV. Heidelberg, Germany 1000 athletes from 44 countries
1976 V. Toronto, Canada 1600 athletes from 42 countries
1980 VI. Arnhem, Netherlands 2500 athletes from 42 countries
1984 VII. Stoke Mandeville, UK
New York, USA 4080 athletes from 42 countries
1988 VIII. Seoul, Korea 3053 athletes from 61 countries
1992 IX. Barcelona, Spain 3020 athletes from 82 countries
1996 X. Atlanta, USA 3195 athletes from 103 countries
2000 XI. Sydney, Australia 3843 athletes from 123 countries
2004 XII. Athens, Greece