The sporting events expected at the Games of the XIII Paralympiad consist of 20 recognized sports:

Archery | Athletics | Boccia | Cycling | Equestrian | Football 5-a-side | Football 7-a-side | Goalball | Judo | Powerlifting | Rowing | Sailing | Shooting | Swimming | Table Tennis | Volleyball Sitting | Wheelchair Basketball | Wheelchair Fencing | Wheelchair Rugby | Wheelchair Tennis


Archery is a test of accuracy, strength and concentration. The sport is open to athletes with a physical disability (including spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, amputee and les autres) in three functional classes. It comprises of individual and team events, standing and wheelchair competitions. Competitors shoot at a target marked with ten scoring zones, from a set distance. The governing body is the IPC through the International Paralympic Archery Committee, which follows the rules of FITA (the international governing body for able-bodied Archery) with a few minor modifications as detailed in the IPC Archery rulebook. Presently 37 countries compete but the number is still growing. Archery was one of the original Paralympic sports contested in Rome in 1960.


The speed of a sprinter, the strength of a thrower, the power of a jumper and the endurance of a distance runner is what draws the crowds to Athletics. The track and field events at the Paralympic Games attract the largest number of athletes and spectators. They offer a wide range of competitions and the largest number of events. Athletics has been part of the Paralympic Games since 1960 and events are open to male and female athletes in all disability groups. Advances in technology and athletes' dedication to the sport have made once unimaginable feats become realities. Some compete in wheelchairs, others with prostheses, and visually impaired athletes compete with the guidance of a sighted companion. Athletes compete according to their functional classifications in each event and these events are continually being redefined to include as many athletes as possible. Athletics includes: 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1,500m, 5,000m, 10,000m, 4x100m, 4x400m running, Discus, Shot Put, Javelin, Triple Jump, Long Jump, High Jump, Pentathlon and Marathon. Athletics is practiced by athletes in 107 countries and the governing body is the IPC through the International Paralympic Athletics Committee.


Boccia is a test of muscle control and accuracy, requiring high focus and concentration. The goal of the game is to throw/bowl game balls so that they land as close as possible to a special target ball, the "jack". Boccia is practiced in 42 countries and is open to athletes with severe cerebral palsy or related neurological conditions using a wheelchair. It was introduced at the New York 1984 Paralympic Games and has no counterpart in the Olympic programme. All events are mixed and feature individual, pair and team competitions for a total of seven medal events. It is played on a marked court, usually with a hard surface. Boccia is governed by the International Boccia Commission as part of the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CP-ISRA).


The speed and excitement inherent in all Cycling competitions is relatively new for athletes with a disability. Cycling was introduced as a Paralympic sport in Seoul in 1988 and is now practiced in more than 40 countries. Depending on disability classification, athletes use a bicycle, tricycle, tandem or handcycle. The competition programme includes Track and Road events for individuals and teams with Sprints, Individual Pursuits, 1,000m Time Trial, Road Races and Road Time Trials. Events are for both men and women, with the cyclists grouped together according to their functional ability. Paralympic Cycling is not an adapted sport and the technical regulations of the International Cycling Union (UCI) are used at all IPC Cycling competitions. There are specific IPC Cycling rules that allow for adaptations to cycles and equipment as necessary, for reasons of safety. Cycling for riders with a disability is governed by the IPC through the International Paralympic Cycling Committee.


Equestrian is a multi-disability sport, open to athletes with a physical disability or a visual impairment. Events are mixed and grouped according to their functional profiles. Riders compete in two Dressage events; a Championship Test of set movements and a Freestyle Test to music. There is also a Team Test for three or four riders. Competitors are judged on their display of horsemanship skills as they ride their horse using a series of commands for walk, trot and canter. Riders may use permitted compensating aids such as dressage whips, a connecting rein bar, rubber bands or other aids. Since 2006, the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) is the governing body. Equestrian events were first included in the Paralympic Games in Atlanta 1996 and the sport is currently practiced in 40 countries.

Football 5-a-side

Anyone who has tried to play football will tell you that it is not as easy as the professionals make it look. Add to it the fact that players cannot see the ball, their opponents or the goal and you have an extremely exciting game. Football 5-a-Side is open to athletes with a visual impairment, with the possibility of one sighted player as goalkeeper. There are five players per team and each game lasts 50 minutes. Rules are the same as Olympic football with certain modifications; the ball makes a noise when it moves, the goalkeepers may be sighted and act as guides during the game, the rest of the team uses eye patches and eyeshades, there are five players on a team rather than 11, the field of play measurements are smaller and there is no offside rule. The Football Subcommittee of the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) governs this sport, following modified rules of the International Federation of Associated Football (FIFA). It is practiced by athletes in 21 countries. Football 5-a-Side made its debut at the ATHENS 2004 Paralympic Games.

Football 7-a-side

Football is one of the world's most exciting sports and the 7-a-side version is no exception, combining speed, agility and impressive ball handling, this sport has been part of the Paralympic programme since the New York/Stoke Mandeville Games in 1984. The sport is governed by the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CP-ISRA) and following the rules of the International Federation of Associated Football (FIFA), with some modifications. There are seven players on a team rather than 11, the measurements of the playing field are smaller, there is no offside rule and throw-ins may be made with only one hand. This sport is intended for athletes with cerebral palsy and a ratio of players from different classes must be maintained. Five regions now compete in international competition and the number of countries continues to grow.


Goalball competitions are set apart from all other Paralympic events due to the unique atmosphere inside the playing venue. The object is to roll the ball into the opponent's goal while the opposing players try to block the ball with their body. Bells inside the ball help to orient the players indicating the direction of the on-coming ball. Therefore, while play is in progress, the gymnasium is completely silent so as to allow the players to concentrate and react instantly to the ball. Goalball is played by male and female athletes who are visually impaired and wear "blackout" masks to ensure that all participants are competing equally. Each team has three players on the court and a maximum of three substitutes. It is exclusively a sport for athletes with a visual impairment and was introduced to the world in 1976 at the Paralympics in Toronto. All competitors wear goggles while they are on the playing court, which allows athletes with varying degrees of vision to participate together. The governing body of Goalball is the International Blind Sport Federation (IBSA) and the sport is currently played in around 51 countries worldwide.


Judo is a sport that demands a physical and strategic performance, testing the qualities of touch, balance and sensitivity. Competitors must use different techniques to overcome or immobilize their opponent. The sport is open to athletes with a visual impairment in several weight categories. The sport is governed by the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) and follows the International Judo Federation (IJF) rules used at other top-level, able-bodied judo events, with slight modifications for athletes with a visual impairment, which allow them to contact their opponent before the start of the match. Judo was introduced as a Paralympic Games sport in Seoul in 1988 and is widely practiced in 30 countries by both male and female athletes. The ATHENS 2004 Paralympics was the first time that women competed in Judo.


Powerlifing is the ultimate test of upper body strength. Competitors must lower the bar to the chest, hold it motionless on the chest and then press it upwards to arms length with locked elbows. The bench press is the only discipline with 10 different categories based on body weight. The competition is open to all athletes with cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, amputees (lower limb amputees only) and les autres who meet the minimal disability criteria. It was first included in the Paralympic program at the Tokyo 1964 Paralympic Games and women participated in this sport for the first time in Sydney in 2000. Powerlifting is governed by the IPC through the International Paralympic Powerlifting Committee (IPPC), founded in 1989, and is currently practiced in 115 countries.


Adaptive Rowing is Rowing or Sculling for athletes with a disability who meet the criteria set out in the Adaptive Rowing classification regulations. Adaptive implies that the equipment is "adapted" to the user to practice the sport, rather than the sport being "adapted" to the user.
The International Rowing Federation (FISA) is the sole world governing body for Rowing. The sport was introduced to the Paralympic programme in 2005 and will hold its first Paralympic competitions at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.
Adaptive Rowing is open to male and female athletes, and is currently divided into four boat classes which are part of FISA's World Championships programme: LTA4+, TA2x, AW1x and AM1x.The LTA4+ and TA2x are mixed gender boats. Races are held over 1000 meters for all four events (although LTA4+ was raced over 2000m until the FISA 2005 World Rowing Championships).


The Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games introduced Sailing as an exhibition event, leading to its acceptance as a full medal sport at the Sydney 2000 Paralympics. This sport is open to amputee, cerebral palsy, visually impaired, wheelchair and les autres athletes. Sailing's classification system is based on four factors -- stability, hand function, mobility and vision. The classification of athletes is completed by recognized individuals using the IFDS Functional Classification System Manual.

Athletes compete in three events, which are non-gender specified:

  1. Single-Person Keelboat (2.4mR)
  2. Two-Person Keelboat (To be Determined)
  3. Three-Person Keelboat (Sonar)

The Single-Person and Three-Person Keelboats are open to most disability groups, while the Two-Person Keelboat event is specifically designed for more severely disabled athletes.
The sport is governed by the International Foundation for Disabled Sailing (IFDS), which in turn is recognized by the International Sailing Federation (World Governing Body for Sailing). The sport has grown rapidly into 28 countries competing for the 16 Paralympic berths, and over 50 countries active in sailing for persons with a disability at a development and national competition level.


Shooting is a test of accuracy and control, in which competitors use pistols or rifles to fire a series of shots at a stationary target. Competitions at the Paralympic Games are open to all athletes with a physical disability. There are two classes of competition, wheelchair and standing. Athletes compete in Rifle and Pistol events from distance of 10, 25 and 50 meters, in men's, women's and mixed competitions. Shooting utilizes a functional classification system, which enables athletes from different disability classes to compete together either individually or in teams. Shooting is governed by the IPC through the International Paralympic Shooting Committee following the modified rules of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF). These rules take into account the differences that exist between Shooting for the able-bodied and Shooting for persons with a disability. This sport has been part of the Paralympic Games since Toronto in 1976 and is currently practiced in 51 countries.


Since the first Paralympic Games in Rome in 1960, Swimming has been one of the main sports of the Paralympics. As in the Olympic Games, competitors measure their skills in Freestyle, Backstroke, Butterfly, Breaststroke and Medley events. Athletes from more than 80 countries practice the sport, with male and female competitors having either a physical disability or vision impairment. Athletes are classified based on their functional ability. The governing body is the IPC through the International Paralympic Swimming Committee (IPSC), which incorporates the rules of the Fédération International de Natation Amateur (FINA). The international swimming rules are followed with a few exceptions, such as optional platform or in-water starts for some races and the use of signals or '"tappers" for swimmers with a visual disability; however no prostheses or assistive devices are permitted.

Table Tennis

Athletes from all disability groups (with the exception of athletes with a visual impairment) participate and compete in Table Tennis in one of 11 classes. Table Tennis competitions are grouped in standing, wheelchair and ID events (athletes with an intellectual disability (ID) currently do not compete in the Paralympic Games), with men and women competing individually, in doubles, as well as in team events. The governing body for Table Tennis is the IPC through the International Paralympic Table Tennis Committee (IPTTC). The rules of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) also apply to the Paralympic Table Tennis competitions with slight modifications for wheelchair athletes. Table Tennis was included in the first Paralympic Games in 1960 and is practiced today by athletes from 104 different countries.

Volleyball Sitting

A high level of teamwork, skill, strategy and intensity is needed in Sitting Volleyball. Each team's goal is to pass the ball over the net and to touch the ball on the ground of the opposing team's side. Male and female athletes with a physical disability are eligible to participate and must fulfil the conditions of a minimum degree of disability. Teams consist of mixed classes in male and female events, with six on court at one time. At all times the athlete's pelvis must touch the ground and the service block is allowed. Sitting players use a smaller court (10x6 metres) and a lower net. Because Sitting Volleyball requires a smaller court and lower net, the game is considerably faster-paced than the standing event. Volleyball (standing) became a Paralympic sport in 1976 (removed in 2000) and the sitting event was introduced at the Arnhem 1980 Paralympics. Volleyball is governed by the World Organization of Volleyball for the Disabled (WOVD). Today, there are athletes from 48 countries practicing the sport.

Wheelchair Basketball

Wheelchair Basketball is one of the most popular sports of the Paralympic Games. It is designed for athletes who have a physical disability that prevents running, jumping and pivoting. Wheelchair Basketball is open to any male or female athlete with a permanent lower limb disability and is played by two teams of five players each. The aim of each team is to score into the opponents' basket and to prevent the other team from gaining control of the ball or scoring. Wheelchair Basketball was introduced to the Paralympic competition programme in Rome in 1960. The International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) is the sole world governing body for Wheelchair Basketball, and the sport is practiced by athletes in 77 countries.

Wheelchair Fencing

From a spectator's point of view, the most striking feature of Wheelchair Fencing is the fact that athletes compete in wheelchairs that are fastened to the floor. However, these chairs allow the fencers freedom of movement in the upper body only and the activity is as fast-paced as in Fencing competitions for able-bodied. Men and women who are amputees, paraplegics or athletes with cerebral palsy are eligible to compete in individual and team events (three fencers to a team) including Foil, Épée (men and women) and Sabre (men). The official governing body is the International Wheelchair Fencing Committee (IWFC), which is part of the International Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Sport Federation (ISMWSF). This sport was introduced at the 1960 Paralympic Games in Rome and there are 24 countries practicing Wheelchair Fencing today.

Wheelchair Rugby

Wheelchair Rugby is an intense, physical team sport for quadriplegic (tetraplegic) male and female athletes. The sport may be very physical as athletes attempt to carry the ball over the opponent's goal line. Though relatively new to the world of sport for persons with a disability, it is rapidly developing around the world. In Paralympic competition, male and female athletes compete on the same teams, thus there is only one team event that accommodates all athletes. Wheelchair Rugby is governed internationally by the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF), which is part of the International Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Sports Federation (ISMWSF). Wheelchair Rugby was included on the Paralympic competition programme at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games and is currently practiced by 22 countries.

Wheelchair Tennis

Wheelchair Tennis appeared for the first time on the Paralympic programme in Barcelona in 1992. It originated from the USA in the 1970s and continues to develop a strong following of players and fans internationally. The game follows traditional tennis rules and certainly maintains the same traditions of high levels of skill, fitness and strategy. The only difference in Wheelchair Tennis competitions is that the players are allowed two bounces of the ball - the first bounce being within the bounds of the court. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is the governing body for Wheelchair Tennis and is advised by the International Wheelchair Tennis Association (IWTA), which includes all Wheelchair Tennis member nations. Wheelchair Tennis is practiced by athletes in close to 70 countries.