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The History of the Paralympics

Published 9th March 2022, in News

The Beijing Paralympics 2022 are currently taking place in China but what do we know about the history of the Paralympics?

The Paralympic Games is a major international sports event for athletes with disabilities. It’s the equivalent to the Olympic Games and is split into Winter Games and Summer Games and the competitions run every two years.

Disabled athletes compete in six different Paralympic sports groups, these are: 

  • Amputee
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Visual impairment
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Intellectual disability
  • and “les autres”, meaning any disability that doesn’t fit into the other categories.

After World War II Sir Ludwig Guttman organised an archery sports competition for male and female British war veterans who had spinal injuries. 

This first competition was held in 1948 and another occurred in 1952. The 1952 event included ex-service athletes from the Netherlands. In Rome in 1962 the first four-year interval Olympic-style summer competition for disabled athletes was held; the first winter games ran in Sweden in 1976. After the 1986 Olympic Games held in Seoul, South Korea, the Paralympics competitions have been held at Olympics venues using the same sports locations and facilities. Likewise, the Winter Paralympics have been held at Winter Olympic venues since the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. The International Olympic Committee agreed in 2001 that every country that hosts the Olympic Games must also hold the Paralympics.

The Paralympics competition has increased in size hugely since it was first started in 1960. In this years’ Winter games in Beijing, there will be 736 athletes from 49 countries who will compete in 78 medal events. They’ll be competing in alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, sled hockey, snowboarding and wheelchair curling. 

You can learn more about the history of the Paralympics at the International Paralympic Committee website here:

You can see the full schedule of the Beijing Winter Paralympics events and see who to watch out for at the official websites: