The Paralympic movement started after the end of the Second World War. After the war, many soldiers were left with disabilities of varying degrees of severity, and with the arrival of the first Olympics after the war, also held in London in 1948, British soldiers with spinal chord injuries competed in several competitions organised by Dr Lugwig Guttmann on the day of the opening ceremony. At the following Olympics, injured soldiers from Holland joined in these competitions, and the international Paralympic movement was born

For the 1960 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, the first Paralympic Games was organised, now including all people with disabilities, not just war veterans. Different disability groups were added in the 1976 Olympics in Toronto, creating the format that currently runs today. 1976 also saw the first Paralympic winter games take place alongside the Olympics at Innsbruck.

With Britain being at the forefront of the Paralympic movement, London 2012 sees a large focus on the Paralympic Games, with a keen ambition to promote the sport's status, combining the competition and the competing athletes to the main Olympic Event to form one Olympic Games, but without losing the unique identity of the Paralympic movement. One of the key aims is to promote the focus onto the achievements of the athletes, rather than focusing on their disability, as part of the progress towards equal status for Paralympians among athletes.


There are six disability classifications used for the Paralympics covering both physical and mental disability, which are the same for both the Summer and Winter Paralympics. Anyone who meets the criteria of one of these categories is eligible to compete at the Paralympics. However, currently not all sports have competitions suitable for each of the disability groups. The classifications are:

  • Amputee
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Intellectual disability
  • Wheelchair
  • Visual Impairment
  • Les Autres (unclassified disability)

Full List of Paralympic Events and Venues

Events                                     Venues

Archery                                     Royal Artillery Barracks

Athletics                                   Olympic Stadium

Boccia                                        Excel London

Cycling – Road                        Regent’s Park

Cycling – Track                       VeloPark Velodrome

Equestrian                               Greenwich Park

Football – 5-a-side                   Hockey Centre

Football – 7-a-side                   Hockey Centre

Goalball                                      Handball Arena

Judo                                            Excel London

Powerlifting                               Excel London

Rowing                                        Eton Dorney Rowing Centre

Sailing                                         Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour

Shooting                                      Royal Artillery Barracks

Swimming                                   Aquatics Centre

Table Tennis                              Excel London

Volleyball – Sitting                   Excel London

Wheelchair Basketball             Basketball Arena, North Greenwich Arena 1 (Millennium Dome)

Wheelchair Fencing                  Excel London

Wheelchair Rugby                     Basketball Arena

Wheelchair Tennis                    Eton Manor, Olympic Park



R. Harris

Bsc Physical Education, Sports Science and Physics, Loughborough University Founder