Rio Summer Paralympic Games 2016: an overview

This year the world is turning its eyes on Rio de Janeiro. And it is not only for the recently finished Rio 2016 Olympic Games but also for something just as exciting.

Since September 7th, which happens to be the same date as Brazil’s Independence Day, this South American country is also hosting another one of the most awaited summer sporting events this year, the Rio Paralympic 2016 Games.


What Are The Paralympics?

Ever since 1960 and every four years after that, there’s a sporting event that started out in 1948 with 16 injured British ex-servicemen. These people were involved in an archery battle and going through a post-war spinal rehabilitation under an expert named Dr. Ludwig Guttmann. The doctor then organized what has become an epic Olympic-like sports game between athletes that are physically impaired.

Before that first 1960 Paralympics in Rome, the good doctor had developed his 1948 Arching competition – which he dubbed as the Stoke Mandeville Games – into an International event four years later by letting Dutch ex-servicemen also to join and compete. The rest became history as the 1960 Paralympics became the first official International Sports Game for athletes with disabilities.

The Paralympics – meaning games that are hosted in parallel with the Olympic Games – had featured 400 Paralympic athletes from 23 different countries during its worldwide debut 56 years ago.

What Paralympic Sports Will be Hosted?

The summer 2016 Paralympic Games hosts 528 different events in twenty of Rio de Janeiro’s sporting arenas.

Two new summer sports, Canoeing and Paratriathlon, make the Paralympic Rio Games boast a total of 22 different Paralympics sports to compete in. That is different to the last 2012 Summer Paralympic Games in London that only had 20 sports.

Here is the complete list of Summer Sports and a list of Wheelchair Sports you can expect to watch at the Rio Games:

  1. Archery
  2. Athletics
  3. Boccia
  4. Canoeing
  5. Cycling
  6. Equestrian
  7. Football 5-a-side
  8. Football 7-a-side
  9. Goalball
  10. Judo
  11. Paratriathlon
  12. Powerlifting
  13. Rowing
  14. Sailing
  15. Shooting
  16. Swimming
  17. Table tennis
  18. Sitting Volleyball
  19. Wheelchair basketball
  20. Wheelchair fencing
  21. Wheelchair rugby
  22. Wheelchair tennis

What are the Paralympic Schedules?

The Rio 2016 dates for the actual competition starts on September 8th, a day after the opening ceremony, and ends on September 18th. The Rio 2016 schedules for each game are distributed throughout eleven days of competition. Individual sports like athletics and swimming is held almost every day while the new sports, such as triathlon and canoeing, are held for only two.

What About the Athlete Accommodations?

In total, 159 countries have sent their best men and women to participate in the Rio Paralympic 2016 events. Around 4,342 Paralympic athletes from all over the world are competing this year in the 526 medal events. Countries such as USA, Australia, Great Britain, France, China, Canada, Japan, Germany, and Spain each have sent hundreds of Paralympic participants. All of them are housed in the Rio Olympic village and Paralympic village of Barra da Tijuca which comprises of a complex that has a total of 31 buildings that all have living units and amenities adapted for people with disabilities or little mobility.

Where are the Competition Venues?

Within an average 10-25 minutes distance from the Rio Olympic Village, the 2016 Rio Summer Games is held in one of four different competition zones: Barra, Deodoro, Maracana, and Copacabana.

Out of the 32 venues, there are seventeen new Sport sites that the city never had before, consisting of ten permanent venues and seven temporary Sport sites that will only be used during the games.

Nine of the fourteen other already existing sporting venues that Rio already had were already operational while the remaining five had to be upgraded and refurbished for the 2016 Summer Games.

The Barra cluster occupies the west of the Latin city and hosts most of the venues for the Rio Games. In it are facilities including the Riocentro Complex, Olympic Golf Course, and Pontal beachside. Deodora, on the other hand, lies in the North part of Rio and accommodates the Whitewater Stadium, Olympic Centers, Deodora Stadium, and Youth Arena.

While in the East are both the Maracana and Copacabana zones. Maracana has its legendary Maracana Stadium, Olympic Stadium, Sambodromo, and Maracanazinho. Meanwhile, the Copacabana is hosting sports at the Marina de Gloria, Lagoa Stadium, Beach Volleyball Arena, and Fort Copacabana.

Here is a breakdown of all the venues in each zone and its events:

  1. Barra Zone:
  • Carioca Arena 1 – Wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby
  • Carioca Arena 2 – Boccia
  • Carioca Arena 3 – Judo, wheelchair fencing
  • Future Arena – Goalball
  • Olympic Aquatics Stadium – Swimming
  • Olympic Tennis Centre – 5-a-side football, wheelchair tennis
  • Pontal Beach – Road cycling
  • Rio Olympic Arena – Wheelchair basketball
  • Rio Olympic Velodrome – Track cycling
  • Riocentro – Powerlifting, sitting volleyball, and table tennis
  1. Deodoro Zone:
  • Deodoro Stadium – 7-a-side football
  • National Equestrian Center – equestrian
  • National Shooting Center – shooting
  1. Maracana Zone:
  • Estádio Olímpico João Havelange – athletics
  • Maracanã Stadium – opening and closing ceremonies
  • Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí – archery
  1. Copacabana Zone:
  • Fort Copacabana – Athletics, Triathlon, and Road Cycling
  • Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas – canoeing and rowing
  • Marina da Glória – sailing

Are the Rules the Same for Wheelchair Olympic Sports?

A lot of the Paralympic sports played in the 2016 summer games use wheelchairs and are played using different playing rules when compared to the original ones.

Take the wheelchair basketball Paralympics for example. As a wheelchair basketball game for physically challenged Basketball athletes, it has its wheelchair basketball rules and regulations. Players can bring the ball in their lap for two pushes, and there is no double dribble rule.

Other games for athletes in wheelchairs, such as tennis for Paralympic tennis players, also has its set of wheelchair tennis rules. For example, the player is allowed two bounces of the ball except for one. These rule exceptions, however, doesn’t make the game any less challenging or less exciting to watch.

Will the Games Reach 2.4 Million Visitors?

Even though the struggling national economy and presumed lack of local interest had given the committee a lot of tough challenges of budget crisis and worries of not getting enough crowd to the games, the promotional publicity, and affordable ticket pricing had also grabbed the attention of people everywhere and helped boost the country’s local tourism.

More than 1.9 million visitors bought a ticket. They were not only coming from Brazil but from all around the world. That makes the 2016 Paralympics surpass the Beijing 2008 Games attendance of just over 1.7 million visitors and probably may reach the 2.4 million target that the committee hopes for.

When and Where will The Next Paralympic Games be?

So, as the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio comes to a close this week, where and when are the next Paralympics going to take place? Well, get your snow jackets on because the next games we all can look forward to the 2018 Winter Paralympics, that will be held from March 9th to 18th.

And where will that be? The next Paralympics will take place in South Korea, in the city of Pyeongchang, home to the snowy Taebak Mountain regions 180 km away from the capital city.

Will China still lead the pack in collecting the most medals like it is doing now at the Rio Paralympics or is Great Britain going to take the lead from its current second place? 2018 will answer this question.


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