The Paralympic Games

A brief history

Coinciding with the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, a sports competition for wheelchair users is organized for the first time in a hospital in Aylesbury, Southern England. 16 war-disabled soldiers compete in archery at the Stoke Mandeville Games. When four years later Dutch participants also traveled to Aylesbury, the international idea of the games was born. The Paralympics later emerged from these Stoke Mandeville Games.

The first official World Games of the Disabled took place in Rome in the summer of 1960. Around 400 wheelchair athletes from 23 countries participated. Since then, like the Olympic Games, they have taken place every four years and are also being opened up to more and more athletes with other disabilities.

Only 16 years later, the first Winter Games for disabled athletes started in the Swedish city Örnsköldsvik. 52 competitions in the two sports of alpine skiing and cross-country skiing are held here, in which around 250 para-athletes from 16 nations took part.

Since the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul (Korea) and the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville (France), the competitions have been held in the same sports venues as the Olympic Games, and the Paralympics are mentioned for the first time.

Who is allowed to start at the Paralympics?

In order to be able to compare the respective performances in terms of equal opportunities, the Paralympians are first divided into one of the ten internationally recognized impairment categories. Therefore the type of permanent disability and its impact on the respective sport are evaluated. Within the individual categories, the athletes are then assigned to starting classes after an individual test.

Impairment categories:

  • Impairment of muscle strength
  • Impairment of passive mobility
  • Amputation or malformation of limbs
  • Different leg lengths
  • Short stature
  • Muscle hypertonia
  • Ataxia
  • Athetosis
  • Visual impairment
  • Intellectual disability

Impairments such as cerebral palsy, paraplegia and spasticity are also covered by these ten categories. Some of the Paralympic sports are open to all impairment categories. Deaf and organ transplant recipients are not eligible. These groups host their own World Games - the Deaflympics and the World Transplant Games.

Paralympic disciplines

Summer Games

Archery, athletics, bench press, bocce, para-cycling, para-dressage, soccer, goalball, judo, para-canoe, para-rowing, target shooting, swimming, para-badminton, table tennis, para-triathlon, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair tennis, taekwondo

Winter Games

Biathlon, snowboard, alpine and cross-country skiing, as well as wheelchair curling and para-ice hockey


Where can I find out more?

You can find more information about the games, various paralympic sports, current developments and on how you can personally try para sports here:

You can also follow the Paralympics on Instagram .

The 13th Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing 2022

From March 4th to 13th, 2022 the 13th Paralympic Winter Games will take place in Beijing. With approximately 736 para-athletes and 78 competitions in 6 sports, Beijing 2022 could be the largest Paralympic Winter Games so far. The vision of the games: "A joyful rendezvous on pure ice and snow". This is to honor the tradition of China and commemorate the Paralympic Games in Beijing 2008.

Six sports are part of the Beijing Paralympic Winter Games: biathlon, snowboarding, alpine and cross-country skiing, as well as wheelchair curling and para-ice hockey.

These competitions will be held at six venues in three different competition zones: central Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou.

The ice sports competitions para-ice hockey and wheelchair curling are held in Beijing. The National Indoor Stadium, venue of the para-ice hockey tournament, already served as a competition venue during the games in 2008.

86 kilometers north of China's capital lies the mountainous suburb Yanqing. The alpine skiing, toboggan and bobsleigh competitions will take place there. In addition to ski resorts, hot springs, and national parks, this is one of the most magnificent stretches of the Great Wall of China.

Zhangjiakou is one of the most popular winter sports areas in China and is located about 180 kilometers northwest of Beijing. Para-biathlon, para-cross-country skiing and para-snowboarding competitions are held here. In addition to tourism, the newly built sports facilities are to serve as a training center after the Chinese national team games.

Where can I watch the 2022 Winter Paralympics?

If you want to follow the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics, you can do so from March 4th to 13th at the following links: