Olympic Games – The Paralympic Games and the Special Olympics
The excitement builds as the date quickly approaches for each Olympic event. The drama of watching highly educated and determined individuals striving for greater physical achievement is compelling. We understand that the road to the Olympics has meant great discipline and sacrifice for these athletes. But for each of them, it was worth participating with the best in the world.
And when you consider the everyday challenges that come with it, it becomes even more compelling when the participants are faced with certain physical disabilities. Beijing will also host the Paralympic Games from September 6-17. A dynamic event that showcases the Olympic spirit with an even more poignant dimension.
The Differences Between the Olympics, Paralympics
Olympic-style games for athletes with disabilities were first introduced in Rome in 1960. At that time, there were about 400 athletes who came from 23 countries. Over time, the events grew. Today the Paralympics have top athletes from 6 different handicap groups. The 2004 event had grown to 3,806 participants from 136 countries in Athens.
They always occur in the same year as the Olympics and have been seen in the same venues since 1988. In June 2001, the IOC and IPC signed an agreement ensuring that this practice will continue and that any city hosting the Olympic Games agrees to host the Paralympic Games.
The things that we have in common with the Paralympics
The only other sports organization authorized by the IOC to use the word Olympics in its title is the International Special Olympics. The idea for the Special Olympics was started in 1968 by Anne Mcglone Burke, a physical education teacher in Chicago. She planned to create a place where people with intellectual disabilities can grow in self-confidence, social skills and achieve a sense of accomplishment.
The most profiled supporter of the Special Olympics is Eunice Shriver. With its ongoing efforts, the Special Olympics has expanded to more than 180 countries and has included nearly two and a half million athletes in its training and competition program. While special competitive events are held annually, a Special Olympics World Games is held every four years. The Special Olympics oath reads, “Let me win. But if I can’t win, let me be brave in the effort.” Their next summer games will be held in 2011.