There are a number of international competitive opportunities held each year for disabled athletes. Here are some of the multisports events:
Today, the Paralympic Games are the highest level elite sport events for athletes from six different disability groups. The number of athletes participating in the Paralympic Games has grown from 400 athletes from 23 countries in 1960 to 3806 athletes from 136 countries in 2004.
The Paralympic Games was spun from the Stoke Mandeville Games set up by Dr Ludwig Guttman in 1948. The Stoke Mandeville Games were the first competitions for athletes with spinal cord injuries. The Games went on to become an annual event. Four years after its introduction, with participation from Dutch athletes, the International Stoke Mandeville Games were established.
In 1960, for the first time, the Games were staged in the same country and the same city as the Olympics Games. This was considered to be the first ever Paralympic Games. Originally, the word ‘Paralympic’ was used as a pun of ‘paraplegic’ and ‘Olympic’. However, because of increasing inclusion of other disability groups and the close association with the Olympics, ‘Paralympics’ came to represent the ‘parallel’ of the Olympics. ‘Paralympics’ became the official name of the Games in 1988.
The Paralympic Games have always been held in the same year as the Olympic Games. Since the 1988 Seoul Paralympic Games, they have also taken place at the same venues. The 2008 Paralympic Games were in Beijing and 2012 Paralympic Games in London. Athletes can look forward to visiting Rio, Brazil for the 2016 Games.
First organized in 1924 by the Comité International des Sports des Sourds, CISS (The International Committee of Sports for the Deaf), the Deaflympics were the first games ever for athletes with disabilities.
Since then, the Deaflympics have become one of the world’s fastest growing sports events, from a mere 145 athletes in 1924 to more than 3000 athletes participating in the recent 2005 Melbourne Deaflympics.
Originally known as the ‘Deaf World Games’, the CISS replaced it with a new name – ‘Deaflympics’ – from 2001 onwards.
Currently there are 18 sports offered in the Summer Deaflympic Games: athletics, badminton, basketball, bowling, cycling, football, handball, orienteering, shooting, swimming, table tennis, tennis, volleyball, water polo, wrestling, karate, judo and taekwondo.
The Deaflympics are equivalent to the Olympics for the deaf. Separate games for deaf athletes are needed, not only because of their significant numbers, but also because of the different communication needs of these athletes on the sports field and in social interaction.
Coming 2008, athletes will be attending the Deaflympics in the city of Taipei, Taiwan.
After a controversial history, the 2002 Commonwealth Games officially integrated events for elite athletes with a disability (EAD) into the main competition schedule and medals won by EAD athletes were counted as part of the overall medal tally.
The 2006 Commonwealth Games comprised of 12 events across four sports for EAD athletes: swimming, athletics, table tennis and power lifting.
The FESPIC Games is the parallel of the Asian Games for the disabled, and the second most prestigious event for disabled persons in Asia. Elite athletes, from over 40 countries in the Far East and South Pacific countries, gather to pit their skills against each other on this international platform every four years.
The FESPIC Games was started in 1975 to create more international competitive opportunities for the disabled community. Back then, disabled persons in Asia and the South Pacific had difficulties of even receiving recognition of their basic social status or rights - a stark contradiction to their peers in Europe. National funding and support were therefore extremely limited. Thus, the FESPIC Federation was set up in Oita, Japan, to create an easily accessible competition.
Besides promoting sports as a form of rehabilitation for all kinds of disabilities, the federation seeks to establish mutual understanding and friendship among disabled people all over the world.
As with the arrangement between the Olympics and the Paralympics, the FESPIC and Asian Games adopted the strategy of having both games in the same city. However, this will change in 2006 as the Asian Games will be held in Doha, Qatar, and the FESPIC Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Many eyeballs will be on the 2006 event, as it will be the last FESPIC Games ever. The games will no longer take on the name of ‘FESPIC’ in future. This is also the first time sailing is included as a competitive event.
ASEAN Para Games
The equal of the SEA Games, the ASEAN Para Games is a biennial competition for athletes with a disability in the ASEAN region. The games are hosted by the same country where the SEA Games take place.
“ASEAN Para Games is designed as a friendly family competition, connecting and moving ASEAN together in unity towards equal opportunity in sports and in life”
The Para Games have three main objectives:
Promote friendship and solidarity among persons with disabilities in the ASEAN region through sports.
Promote and develop sports for the persons with disabilities in the ASEAN region.
Rehabilitate and integrate persons with disabilities into mainstream society through sports.
There are 11 participating countries in this event: Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.