In Rome, Italy in 1960, the first Paralympic games were held and there were 400 athletes competing from 23 different countries. Followed by the 1976 Paralympics Winter games in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden.
Although sports for atheletes that had suffered an impairment have been around for more than 100 years, it was not until after the second World War that a more comepetitive form of events existed.
The purpose of introducing the competition was to help the recovery, mentally and physically, of the large number of injured veterans and civilians hurt during the years of war.
In 1944, the British Government requested Dr.Ludwig Guttmann open a spinal injury centre at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in London. During this time the rehabilitation of the injured and impaired patients moved on from being purely recreational sports to that of competitive sports.
On 29th July 1948, which was the opening ceremony day of the London Olympics, Dr Guttmann organised the first wheelchair bound atheletes competition, which was then known as the Stoke Mandeville Games.
During these games 16 injured servicemen and women took part in an archery event this was followed in 1952 by a Dutch ex-servicemen joining in the Movement. Thereafter, the International Stoke Mandeville Games was founded.
Since the 1988 Olympic Games of Seoul, Korea and the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France, all Olympic and Paralympic Games have taken place in the same cities and venues, as an agreement was reached between the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) and IOC (International Olympic Committee).
Also back in 1960, the collective groups of the World Federation of ex-servicemen, and the International Working Group on Sport for the Disabled joined forces. These groups were set up to explore problems that people with an impairment might suffer in joining in, and being affiliated to, the International Stoke Mandeville Games.
In 1964, these two groups formed one corperation which was known as the International Sport Organisation for the Disabled (ISOD). They offered opportunities for athletes who could not automatically be affiliated to the International Stoke Mandeville Games: like the visually impaired, persons with cerebral palsy, amputees, and paraplegics.
At the beginning, just 16 countries were affiliated to ISOD, but they encouraged the event to include blind and amputee athletes into the 1976 Toronto Paralympics. After that they pushed to have athletes with cerebral palsy in 1980 paralympics in Arnhem.
The aim of the committee was to include all physically impairmed atheles, and with many other organisations being formed, this made the ISOD’s job easier.
Disability oriented groups like the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CPISRA) and International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) were founded in 1978 and 1980 respectively, and this helped push their causes forward.
Finally in 1982 the “International Co-coordinating Committee Sports for the Disabled in the World” (ICC) was formed and the four international organisations experienced a great united benefit in coordinating the furture of the Paralympic Games.
The ICC was consisted of the four presidents of CPISRA, IBSA, ISMGF and ISOD, with the general secretaries and an additional member (which happened to be the Vice-President, followed by the Technical Officer).
With tthe International Committee of Sport for the Deaf (CISS) and International Sports Federations for Persons with an Intellectual Disability (INAS-FID) joining in 1986. However the deaf still maintained their own separate organisation, with the member nations demanding a more national and regional representation within the organisation.
The International Paralympic Committee was founded on 22 September 1989, in Dusseldorf, Germany as an international non-profit organisation and they became the main global governing body for the Paralympic Movement.
The Paralympic Games are now the second biggest sporting event in the world.