The Summer Paralympic Games Have Begun – Go Team USA!
It’s probably safe to say that many Americans watched the Summer Olympic Games in August. We come together as a country for the love of sport. But did you know that you can still cheer for Team USA? Opening Ceremonies for the Summer Paralympic Games were held last night in Rio, and you won’t want to miss watching these incredible athletes in action…their stories and accomplishments are truly inspirational.
The Paralympic Games or the Games of the Paralympiad, are an international multi-sport event, where athletes with physical disabilities compete. This includes athletes with mobility disabilities, amputations, blindness, and cerebral palsy. Similar to the Olympic games, the Paralympic Games are held every four years, and are organized by the International Paralympic Committee. Medals are awarded in each event, with gold medals for first place, silver for second and bronze for third, a tradition that the Olympic Games started in 1904.
The 15th Summer Paralympic Games will be held September 7th to September 18th, making them the first Summer Paralympics to be held during the host city’s wintertime. Over the course of 11 days of competition, 170 member nations will participate with 4,300 athletes vying for medals in 528 events over 23 sports. 279 American athletes will compete.
Today, there are more than 21 million Americans with a physical disability, many who are eligible to compete in Paralympic sport. In 2001, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) formalized an agreement stating that the Paralympic Games would be held after the Olympics in the same city using the same venue.
The word “Paralympic” represents “parallel” and “Olympic” to illustrate how the two movements exist side by side. Since its formation in 2001, the Paralympics has been inspiring Americans to achieve their dreams, and has been making a difference in the lives of thousands of people with Paralympic-eligible impairments every day with educational opportunities and sports programming.
The mission statement of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC):
To support U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes in achieving sustained competitive excellence while demonstrating the values of the Olympic Movement, thereby inspiring all Americans.
Tom (right), the mascot of the 2016 Summer Paralympics, and Vinicius (left), the mascot of the 2016 Summer Olympics. The mascots are intended to reflect the diversity of Brazil’s culture and people.