Tokyo Paralympic Games: history, categories, events … Understand everything about the Games that open this Tuesday in Japan

the essential The competition starts today in the Japanese capital until September 5. Why are these Games called the “Paralympics”? What are the criteria for participating? What is behind the categories T 10, T 38 or S 10? We will explain everything to you.

The first Paralympic Games were held in 1960 in Rome, with only 400 athletes from 23 country. Their “para” prefix refers to their running in parallel with the Olympic Games and not to a handicap. They were born out of the Stoke Mandeville Games, an event first held in Britain in 1948. Bringing together 16 women and men, including some WWII veterans, the competition was aimed at wheelchair athletes.

What are the eligibility criteria?

The Paralympic movement covers ten types of disability that fall into three broad categories: physical, visual and cognitive impairments. Hearing impaired people, for example, cannot participate, but compete in the “Deaflympics” or even the Olympics.

At the Paralympic Games, certain sports are open to all types para-athletes, while others are reserved for specific disabilities. Athletes are assessed to see if they meet a minimum level of impairment, to ensure a level playing field.

In some sports like athletics, they are divided into sports categories according to the impact of their handicap on their performance and compete against competitors with a similar disadvantage. During their career, athletes can be reclassified if necessary if their situation changes.

Are they specific?

In some sports such as athletics, there are several events for the same race distance. Another specificity, the assistants used by certain athletes suffering from a visual handicap. In running, it is a guide, linked by the arm or the hand, that the athlete is obliged to advance at the finish line.

In the case of cyclists, both on the road and on the track, they ride with a “pilot” in tandem.

And for visually impaired swimmers, it there are “tappers” – assistants who warn the athletes by little blows of approaching the edge.

How to decipher the names of categories?

T 11, T 38 or S 10, the letter refers to sport in general. For example, in athletics the T refers to “track” and therefore to track running events, the F to “field” and therefore those of throwing. Also in the case of athletics. The first number indicates the type of handicap, then the second its impact on performance. The higher it is, the more functional mobility the athlete has.

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