Para sport is a term that describes sport offered as part of the Paralympic Movement. There are 28 Para sports contested at the Paralympic Games (22 Summer and 6 Winter). In addition, there are Para sports recognised by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) but not currently contested at the Paralympic Games.

What are the summer Para sports?

  • Para archery
  • Para athletics
  • Para badminton
  • Boccia
  • Para canoe
  • Para cycling
  • Para equestrian
  • Blind football
  • Goalball
  • Para judo
  • Para powerlifting
  • Para rowing
  • Shooting Para sport
  • Sitting volleyball
  • Para swimming
  • Para table tennis
  • Para taekwondo
  • Para triathlon
  • Wheelchair basketball
  • Wheelchair fencing
  • Wheelchair rugby
  • Wheelchair tennis

Different kinds of Para sports

Many Para sports, for example, Para athleticsPara cycling, and Para alpine skiing, are comparable to their equivalent Olympic sport, with similar rules and scoring. However, there are also a number of Para sports which are specific to the Paralympic Movement such as BocciaWheelchair rugby and Goalball.

Para sports not currently contested at the Paralympic Games

As well as the 28 Paralympic sports, there are Para sports recognised by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) which are not currently contested at the Paralympic Games. These are Para sports whose international federations contribute to the development of sport opportunities for Para athletes and have organisational goals that are compatible with the Vision and Mission of the IPC. Some of these used to be at the summer Paralympic Games and may be included for the first time in future.

Summer Para sports in this category include:

Sports which used to be at the Paralympic Games but aren’t today

There are a number of discontinued summer Para sports. These include:

  • Basketball ID
  • Football ID
  • Football
  • 7-a-Side
  • Lawn bowls
  • Sailing
  • Snooker
  • Dartchery
  • Weightlifting
  • Wrestling

Intellectual impairment sport

Virtus is the International Federation for athletes with intellectual impairment. Many different sports are contested at Virtus events. To compete in Virtus events, there are three eligible groups:

  • II1 (Intellectual Impairment)
  • II2 (Significant Intellectual Impairment)
  • II3 (Autism)

Some athletes with an intellectual impairment in the II1 category are also eligible to compete at the Paralympic Games. The Paralympic sports with an intellectual impairment classification are Para athleticsPara swimmingPara table tennis and Para taekwondo.

When is the next summer Paralympic Games?

The next Paralympic Games will be held in Paris, France from the 28 August to 8 September 2024.

Since the Tel Aviv 1968 Paralympic Games, New Zealand has won a total of 236 Paralympic medals including 201 at summer Paralympic Games.

Who can compete at the Paralympic Games?

Para sport offers people with an eligible impairment, opportunities to be involved in a sporting pathway from grassroots through to elite Para sport, representing their country at the highest level, including the Paralympic Games.

To be eligible to participate in Para sport, athletes must have a health condition that presents itself as one of the 10 International Paralympic Committee eligible impairment types. The process of identifying eligibility through assessment of the impairment and resulting activity limitation is called Classification. All Para athletes must go through the Classification process to be allocated a competition class with others who have a similar activity limitation in their sport.

New Zealand has a very active and vibrant Para sport scene with a large variety of Para sports offered at various levels of competition across the country. To find out more about the Para sports on offer in your region, register your details now!

A brief history of the Paralympic Games

The Paralympic Games is the largest international event for disabled athletes and it is held in the same style as the Olympic Games.

The Paralympic Games are held on a four yearly cycle for both the summer and winter games. The Paralympic Games are held immediately following their respective Olympic Games, in the same host city and venues as the Olympic Games.

Currently there are 28 sports (22 summer and 6 winter) that are contested at the Paralympic Games.

New Zealand has won a total of 236 Paralympic medals (201 Summer and 35 Winter).

The Paralympic Games began in 1948 by Sir Ludwig Guttmann who wanted to start a sport that involved the veterans from World War II. On 29 July 1948, the Opening Ceremony of the London 1948 Olympic Games, the first organised competition for wheelchair athletes was founded. The event was called the Stoke Mandeville Games and included 16 injured service men and women who took part in the sport of Para archery.

The Games were later renamed the International Stoke Mandeville Games in 1952 when Dutch ex-servicemen joined in the event. The first official Paralympic Games were in Rome in 1960 and featured eight sports. The term “Paralympic Games“ derives its name from the fact that the Games are held in ‘parallel’ directly after the Olympic Games.

The first Paralympic Games was held in 1960 in Rome, New Zealand first competed in 1968.

The Paralympic Games developed from 400 athletes from 23 countries in Rome 1960 to over 4,350 athletes from 160 countries in Rio 2016.