The Paralympics are recognised by the International
Olympic Committee (IOC) and governed and sanctioned by the International Paralympic
Committee (IPC), a member organisation of the IOC. International Federations (IFs), under
IPC jurisdiction, represent 5 disability groups and provide the technical guidelines
through sports technical delegates for classification criteria to the Paralympics.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) currently
resides in Brugge, Belgium, and is similar to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in
form and function. It is an international non-profit organisation established for the
purpose of governing and developing the world's elite disabled athletes and The Paralympic
Games. English is the IPCs primary language. The IPC is formally recognised and funded, in
part, by the International Olympic Committee. The IPC presides over five international
federations representing 130 countries and 10,000,000 athletes worldwide.
The first Paralympic Games were held in Rome, Italy in
1960. Four hundred (400) athletes from 23 countries participated. Since their humble
beginnings, the Paralympics have blossomed, growing in size and complexity to mirror that
of the Olympic counterparts. The Paralympic Games are part and parcel of The Olympic Games
and are held by the Olympic Host Country, following the Olympic Games. The Paralympics
compete in the same venue and city as The Olympics. The Paralympic games have been held
every Olympic year since 1960, usually in the city or country hosting the Olympic Games.
The Seoul Olympic Organising Committee organised the 1988 Paralympics, held in Olympic
venues two weeks after the Olympic Games. Barcelona and Lillehammer followed suit, hosting
the summer and winter Paralympic games respectively, utilising a similar time frame.
The 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta hosted their competition and
festivities 10 days after the Centennial Olympic Games concluded. The second largest
sporting event in the world, and the largest Paralympic Games to date, over 3,500 athletes
and support staff from 104 countries competed in 17 full medal and 2 exhibition events.
The site was supported by 1,500 officials, 11,344 volunteers and 2,088 media members.
President Bill Clinton served as Honorary Chairman for the Paralympic Games.
Following the theme "Triumph of the Human Spirit",
the Paralympic Games are proud of the tradition they have established to bring elite
disabled athletic competition to the forefront of public consciousness. Competitive sports
have proved an effective vehicle to promote equality, inclusion, accessibility, and
awareness about the capabilities of those with physical disability. Competitive sports
dispel the age old stigma surrounding disability and illuminate the realm of possibility.
The Paralympics truly signify all that is right in sport.
Special Note: The Paralympic Games are not the Special
The Paralympics is truly a competition of elite, world
class, well trained, disabled athletes as opposed to a participatory event where all who
enter receive a medal for involvement. The term "Paralympic" actually means
"next to" or "parallel" to the regular Olympics. The only difference
in the two is that the Paralympics provide elite competition opportunity to athletes with
a functional physical disability which precludes their involvement in open competition of
the regular Olympics. Thus, the difference between the Paralympics and the Special
Olympics is distinct and profoundly opposite.