Games 1996, Atlanta
each Paralympics, the levels of participation and performance
have increased tremendously, and so it was with the 1996
Paralympic Games in Atlanta. For the first time, mentally
impaired athletes took part, along with athletes with spinal
cord disabilities, cerebral palsy, amputations, les autres and
visual impairments. In all, about 4,500 people attended,
including athletes and delegation members. There were about
8,000 rooms for accommodation and 12,000 volunteers were
recruited to help with the massive operations.
Atlanta Paralympic Organizing Committee (APOC), together with
the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), developed a system
to ensure more dynamic growth and improvement within each sport
event. This system was based on three key components of quality,
quantity and universality. Essentially, the system aimed for the
highest level of competition with a maximum number of events.
Also, a mechanism was devised to include delegations that
otherwise might not have been able to participate.
Atlanta Games were attended by 3,195 athletes (2,415 male and
780 female) and 1,717 delegation staff from 103 countries. There
were 20 sports spread across 508 events at the Games from 16 to
25 August. Of these, 17 were full medal sports and 3 were
demonstration events—racquetball, sailing and wheelchair
rugby. For the first time, 56 mentally impaired athletes took
part in special events in athletics and swimming.
outstanding performances were delivered, among them, in
wheelchair racing and swimming. Australia’s Louise Sauvage
dominated the women’s wheelchair racing events, taking the
gold in the 400m, 800m, 1500m and 5000m. In swimming, Kasper
Engel from the Netherlands set a world record in the men’s
100m breaststroke in the class SB5 in a time of 1:31.50.
Beatrice Hess from France won the gold medal in the women’s
200m individual medley (class SM5) in a world and Paralympic
record time of 3:35.94. In all, 269 new world records were set
at the Games. The United States topped the medal table with 157
medals, of which 46 were gold. Next came Australia with 42 gold
medals, and Germany with 40 gold medals.
was high throughout the Games. A total of 388,373 spectators
were recorded across all the sporting events. For the opening
and closing ceremonies, figures of 66,257 and 57,640 were noted
respectively. A total of 2,088 media representatives were
accredited. This total included 721 from the written press, 806
from the electronic media, and 114 photographers.
1996 Atlanta Paralympics were also the first to attract
worldwide corporate sponsorship. But the Games were more than an
international sporting event. The third Paralympic Congress,
held four days before the competitions, focused on the theme of
political and economic empowerment of people with disabilities
as well as global issues in elite sport. The Congress, from 12
to 16 August, brought together leaders of the disability civil
rights community, the disabled sports movement and their
Games also showcased a Cultural Pyramid, featuring the works of
artists with disabilities across many creative disciplines. The
Cultural Pyramid was initiated to widen the appeal and impact of
the Games and to draw parallels between excellence in sport and
in the arts.