Games of the X Paralympics
16 - 25 August 1996
The Parallel Olympics
There have been several milestones in the Paralympic movement. From the 1948 Stoke Mandeville Games for the Disabled, in the United Kingdom organised by Dr Ludwig Guttmann, to coincide with the 1948 London Olympics; to the first official Paralympic Games, no longer open solely to war veterans, which was held in Rome in 1960.
The international Sports Organisation for the Disabled (ISOD) was founded in 1964 and was set up in order to administer disability sports in the same way that the IOC governs the Olympic Games and for the development of athletic opportunities for people with disabilities.
In 1982 this group became the International Coordinating Committee of World Sports Organisations for the Disabled (ICC), now with the added mandate of pushing for the rights of athletes with disabilities directly with the IOC. This cooperation between the ICC and IOC lead to the 1988 Summer Paralympics in Seoul, South Korea, a milestone for the Paralympic movement as it was in Seoul that the Paralympic Summer Games were held directly after the Olympic Summer Games, in the same host city, and using the same facilities. This set a precedent that has endured and again increased the remit of the ICC to include the organisation of the Paralympic Games. In 1989 it was reorganised and renamed the International Paralympic Committee.
There were many outstanding performances at the 1996 Paralympic Games, with 269 new world records. The United States topped the medal table with 157 medals, of which 46 were gold. Next came Australia with 42 gold medals, and Germany with 40 gold medals.
The 1996 Atlanta Paralympics were also the first to attract worldwide corporate sponsorship. But the Games were more than an international sporting event. The third Paralympic Congress, held four days before the competitions, focused on the theme of political and economic empowerment of people with disabilities as well as global issues in elite sport. The Congress, from 12 to 16 August, brought together leaders of the disability civil rights community, the disabled sports movement and their able-bodied counterparts.
The Games also showcased a Cultural Pyramid, featuring the works of artists with disabilities across many creative disciplines. The Cultural Pyramid was initiated to widen the appeal and impact of the Games and to draw parallels between excellence in sport and in the arts.
Games Facts & Figures
- 104 nations
- 20 Sports – 508 events
- 3259 competitors (2469 men, 790 women)
- 1,717 delegation staff from 104 countries
- 1577 medals awarded (518 gold, 517 silver, and 542 bronze)
- 388,373 spectators attended
- 2,088 media representatives were accredited (721 from the written press, 806 from the electronic media, and 114 photographers)
- The first Paralympic Games where athletes were given full medal status