In 1948, Sir Ludwig Guttmann organized a sports competition involving World War
II veterans with a spinal cord injury in Stoke Mandeville, England. Four years
later, competitors from Holland joined the games and the international movement,
now known as the Paralympics, was born. Olympic style games for athletes with
a disability were organized 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 sport competitions was born. In the same year,
the first Paralympic Winter Games took place in Sweden.
Today, the Paralympics are elite sport events for athletes from six different
disability groups. They emphasize, however, the participants' athletic achievements
rather than their disability. The movement has grown dramatically since its first
days. The number of athletes participating in Summer Paralympic Games has increased
from 400 athletes in Rome in 1960 to 3843 in Sydney in 2000. In Sydney, a record
number of 122 countries, or 123 delegations including independent athletes from
East Timor, participated at the Paralympics, making this the largest Games in
The Paralympic Games have always been held in the same year as the Olympic Games.
Since the Seoul Summer Games (1988) and the Albertville Winter Games (1992) they
have also taken place at the same venues as the Olympics. On 19 June 2001 an agreement
was signed between IOC and IPC securing this practice for the future. From the
2002 bid process onwards, the host city chosen to host the Olympic Games will
be obliged to host the Paralympics as well. The next Paralympic Games will take
place in Athens, Greece, in 2004. The Italian city of Torino will host the 2006
Paralympic Winter Games, whereas the Summer Paralympics 2008 will be in Beijing,
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