No skydiving with James Bond this time… but the Queen still gets one of the biggest cheers as she opens the Games
Britain’s greatest living scientist launched the Paralympic opening ceremony with a Big Bang last night, beginning with a plea to more than a billion viewers across the planet, simply, to ‘be curious’.
‘Look up at the stars, and not down at your feet. ‘Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.’ It had to be the most colourful and energetic lecture Stephen Hawking has ever given.
The 4,200 competitors from 164 countries would rather you enjoyed their skills than felt pity for their missing limbs.
The first organized athletic event for disabled athletes that coincided with the Olympic Games took place on the day of the opening of the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, United Kingdom. German born Dr. Ludwig Guttmann of Stoke Mandeville Hospital, who had been helped to flee Nazi Germany by the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA) in 1939, hosted a sports competition for British World War II veteran patients with spinal cord injuries. The first games were called the 1948 International Wheelchair Games, and were intended to coincide with the 1948 Olympics. Dr. Guttman’s aim was to create an elite sports competition for people with disabilities that would be equivalent to the Olympic Games. The games were held again at the same location in 1952, and Dutch veterans took part alongside the British, making it the first international competition of its kind. These early competitions, also known as the Stoke Mandeville Games, have been described as the precursors of the Paralympic Games.
The first official Paralympic Games, was held in Rome in 1960. 400 athletes from 23 countries competed at the 1960 Games. Since 1960, the Paralympic Games have taken place in the same year as the Olympic Games. The Games were initially open only to athletes in wheelchairs; at the 1976 Summer Games, athletes with different disabilities were included for the first time at a Summer Paralympics. With the inclusion of more disability classifications the 1976 Summer Games expanded to 1,600 athletes from 40 countries. The 1988 Summer Paralympics in Seoul, South Korea, was another milestone for the Paralympic movement. It was in Seoul that the Paralympic Summer Games were held directly after the Olympic Summer Games, in the same host city, and using the same facilities. This set a precedent that was followed in 1992, 1996 and 2000. It was eventually formalized in an agreement between the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2001. The 1992 Winter Paralympics were the first Winter Games to use the same facilities as the Winter Olympics.
Source: Dailymail UK, Wikipedia