The Paralympic Games are an international sporting event, specifially for athletes with disabilities. They have often followed the Olympic Games, in the same city which hosts the Olympic Games, and rule changes mandated by the IOC 2000 Commission have made it mandatory that the Paralympics be held just after the Olympic Games in the same city as the Olympics. The Paralympic Games are organized by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), which is an organization recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The Paralympics trace their beginnings to shortly after World War II, and the Stoke Mandeville Games. The Stoke Mandeville Hospital in England is a well-known spinal cord injury research and treatment center. The hospital began sponsoring a series of Games in 1948, called the Stoke Mandeville Games. The Games were originally for athletes with paralysis, and were started by Dr. Ludwig Guttman. The Paralympics first began in 1960 at Rome, and have expanded on the Stoke Mandeville concept to include many other disabilities, including amputees and blind athletes. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has its headquarters in Bonn, Germany. In addition to the IPC, the IOC recognizes several other organizations for athletes with disabilities. These include the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CP-ISRA), the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA), the International Sports Federation for Persons with an Intellectual Disability (INAS-FID), the International Sports Organization of the Disabled (ISOD), the Comité International des Sports des Sourds (CISS – Deaf Athletes), and the forerunner of them all, the International Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Sports Federation (ISMWSF).
The Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Games continue to be held annually in Buckinghamshire, England. While the first two Paralympic Games were held in the same cities as the Olympics, between 1968 and 1984, the Paralympics were held in different cities: 1968 – Tel Aviv, Israel (not Mexico City); 1972 – Heidelberg, West Germany (not Munich); 1976 – Toronto, Canada (not Montréal); 1980 – Arnhem, Netherlands (not Moscow); 1984 – Stoke Mandeville, Great Britain & New York, United States (not Los Angeles). The Paralympics have been expanded to include a Winter version, conducted since 1976. Like the Summer Paralympics, they are now held in the same city as the Olympic Winter Games, but were previously held elsewhere: 1976 – Ornskoldsvik, Sweden (not Innsbruck); 1980 – Geilo, Norway (not Lake Placid); 1984 – Innsbruck, Austria (not Sarajevo); 1988 – Innsbruck, Austria (not Calgary).