All about Paralympics

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On 7th September the 2016 Paralympic Games starts in Rio, Brazil. Top para-athletes from around the world will be competing against each other.

What you need to know about the Paralympic Games

The 2016 Paralympics Games lasts from 7th – 18th September. It is a major international multi-sport event, involving athletes with a range of physical disabilities.

The Games take place in Rio, against the stunning backdrop of Rio’s famous landmarks like Sugarloaf Mountain.

This is the first ever Paralympic Games to take place in South America, and in a Portuguese-speaking country.

Around 4350 athletes from over 160 countries are competing.

There are 526 medal events in 22 different sports. This includes two new sports for 2016, canoeing and triathalon.

About 1,650 of the atheletes taking part are women. This is an increase of about 10% on the Paralympics in London in 2012.

Amazing Paralympics Facts and Figures

The Paralympic torch relay will begin with five flames being relayed to the five regions of Brazil. These flames, as well as a sixth flame lit in Stoke Mandeville, England, will be united to form a single Paralympic flame, which will be carried through Rio and lit during the opening ceremony on 7th September.

The official logo for the Paraolympics shows a heart and the infinity symbol, which represents infinite energy to overcome obstacles.

Trischa Zorn of the USA has won a total of 55 medals, including 41 gold medals, more than anyone else. She has competed in blind swimming events in seven Paralympic Games since 1984.

The first Paralympic Games was held in London in 1948 at the same time as the Summer Olympics, when German neurologist Sir Ludwig Guttmann organised a sports event for soldiers injured in the war. The Paralympic Games were initially open only to athletes in wheelchairs. In 1976 athletes with different disabilities were allowed to participate. Today para-athletes are placed in categories for competition based on their impairment. These are called sport classes. The IPC classification system determines which athletes are eligible to compete in a sport and how athletes are grouped together for competition. The classification is specific to a particular sport, as different sports require athletes to perform different activities.

Natalie Du Toit from South Africa was the first athlete to carry her country’s flag at both the Paralympics’ and Summer Olympics’ opening ceremonies. This was in 2008.

The Paralympics were held in the same city and venues as the Summer Olympics for the first time at the Seoul games in 1988.

The next Winter Paralympics will be in Pyeongchang, South Korea from 9th – 18th March 2018.

How to watch the Paralympics

The Paralympics will be shown on TV in the UK on Channel Four. The opening ceremony is in the evening of September 7th. It coincides with Brazil's Independence Day, a national holiday.

You can also watch some events live at

Find out more about the Paralympics in Rio: