The Rio Paralympics is going to be an incredible event showcasing incredible feats of disability sport. Here’s our lowdown of what you need to know.


Expectations after London for para athletes involved with ParalympicsGB are huge and the biggest unanswered question is ‘Can they match their 2012 performance’. There’s certainly a good chance, although the athletes will face an entirely different scenario this time around, in Brazil.

  • ParalympicsGB will be taking its biggest ever squad to an ‘away’ Games.
  • Great Britain’s challenge will be boosted by a 43% increase in funding from UK Sport after finishing third in the medals table at London 2012.
  • GB won 120 medals at the London Paralympics in 2012, 34 of which were gold. China topped the table with 231 medals. It’s likely that the healthy increase in interest of parasports around the globe will mean that ParalympicsGB will face a tougher test in Rio.


It’s great to see that the Paralympics, as the pinnacle of parasport, continues to develop. They’ll be several Paralympic ‘firsts’ in Rio.

  • The Rio Games will see the introduction of two new sports to the Paralympic programme: canoeing (which involves two types of canoe – kayaks and outrigger canoes) and the paratriathlon. (Paratriathlon is a 750m swim followed by a 20km cycle and a 50km run.)
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will host the Games in September and in doing so become the first Summer Paralympics to be held during the host city’s wintertime.
  • It’s also the first South American city to host the event (the second Southern Hemisphere city, after Sydney in 2000). Brazil will also be the first Portuguese-speaking host country.
  • For the first time for the Summer Games, the heritage flame will be lit in Stoke Mandeville and then all six flames will be sent to Rio, where they will combine to form the Paralympic flame.
  • In addition to featuring Braille, the Paralympic medals include a special innovation. They have a tiny device inside which makes a noise when the medal is shaken, allowing visually impaired athletes to know if they are gold, silver or bronze (gold has the loudest noise, bronze the quietest).

All About Rio

The Rio de Janeiro bid for the summer Olympics and Paralympics was the third by the city in recent years and beat rival bids by Madrid, Chicago and Tokyo (who will host the 2020 Paralympics)

  • According to the Rio de Janeiro 2016 bid committee, the bid’s concept is based on four principles: technical excellence, experience of a lifetime, transformation and supporting the Olympic and Paralympic movements.
  • Brazil has recent experience of hosting multi-sport events, staging the Pan American Games and the Parapan Games in 2007.
  • The official mascots of the 2016 Summer Paralympics and Olympics are Tom and Vinicius, chosen via a public vote. The Paralympic mascot represents Brazilian flora and “is always growing and overcoming obstacles.”
  • The Paralympics will include events contested within 23 sports.
  • The hosts have targeted fifth place in the medals table, having finished ninth in Beijing in 2008 and seventh at London 2012.


The Paralympic Games follows the Olympic Games (5 – 21 August 2016) with the Opening Ceremony taking place on 7 September and the Closing Ceremony set for 18 September. This is usually to allow for the additional facilities and adaptations required by disabled athletes to be applied to stadia etc.

  • There is ongoing discussion amongst commentators as to which should be first, the Olympics as usual, or the Paralympics. The two were legally integrated (for the first time) in London.
  • The Paralympic Games is not a sideshow of the Olympics but an event of equal stature and importance.
  • Broadcaster, Channel 4 cleverly used the Paralympics being scheduled after the Olympics in 2012 in its ‘Thanks for the warm-up’ campaign.


How do athletes with differing disabilities compete fairly with each other?

  • Challenging the interests of para-sport is the threat of one sided and predictable competition, in which the least impaired athlete always wins. To prevent this, 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. This, to a certain extent, is similar to grouping athletes by age, gender or weight.

In para-sport, athletes are grouped by the degree of activity limitation resulting from the impairment. As sports require different activities, the impact of the impairment on each sport also differs.

Being There

  • Approximately 4,200 athletes from 150 countries are expected to compete.
  • To try to ensure all athletes are competing in a ‘clean’ environment at Rio, the IPC has doubled the budget for pre-Paralympic (drug) testing to ensure greater focus on certain countries and territories.
  • 1.8 million tickets were available for the Paralympics.
  • The youngest ever Commonwealth Games medal winner, Erraid Davies, has been told she is no longer disabled enough to compete in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.

Davies from Shetland, also the youngest ever competitor when she won bronze in the women’s 100m breaststroke final aged just 13, has had her classification renewed by medics.

Davies has Perthes disease which affects her hip bones and joints. Medical specialists in Glasgow said her physical impairment was no longer severe enough to allow her to compete in a disabled event.


  • Rio de Janeiro is planning to hold all the competitions inside the city as was done in the XV Pan American Games.
  • Just as in London the 17 venues represent a mix of famous older stadia, including the fabled Maracanã Stadium.
  • As in past years, the 2016 Summer Paralympics will share most of its venues with the Olympics. Barra da Tijuca will host most of the venues of the Games; the rest will be located in Copacabana Beach, Maracanã and Deodoro. Barra da Tijuca will also house the Olympic Village.
  • The Olympic/Paralympic Village is said to be as large as 100 football pitches.

Watch It

Coverage of the Paralympics will be provided by commercial broadcaster Channel 4.

  • Channel 4 will broadcast the 2016 Summer Paralympics, promising 500 hours of coverage.
  • Channel 4 has made commitments to place more disabled talent in front of camera and behind the scenes at the Games.