Logo Paralympic Games
Brazil flag
07 - 18 September 2016
  • New sports: 2 - Canoe and Triathlon
  • NPC debuts: 6
  • Countries: 159 plus IPA
  • Athletes: 4,328
    • Men 2,657
    • Women 1,671
  • World Records: 220
  • Paralympic Games Records: 432
  • Medal events: 528
  • Sports: 22
  • Spectators: 2.15 Million (86 per cent)

Latin America’s first Paralympics will be remembered as the peoples’ Games where the people of Rio turned out in their droves to support athletes of all countries.

The Games were also the best ever in terms of athletic performance with many stand-out performances highlighting 12 days of great sporting action.

For the first time ever an Independent Paralympic Athletes team took part featuring two refugee athletes and more countries than ever before won at least one Paralympic medal.

A record 1,670 female athletes also took part, more than double the number that took part at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympics.

Sadly, the Games were not without tragedy. On the penultimate day of competition Iranian cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad died following a crash in the road cycling event.

Rio 2016 guides and policies can be found here.

Rio 2016 Qualification Criteria


Rio 2016 featured 22 sports, two more than London 2012, with canoe and triathlon making their Paralympic debut. Canoe took place at the iconic Lagoa venue whilst triathlon took place along the world famous Copacabana Beach.

Archery Para athletics Boccia Canoe Cycling Equestrian Football 5-a-side Football 7-a-side Goalball Judo Para powerlifting Rowing Sailing Shooting Para sport Sitting volleyball Para swimming Table tennis Triathlon Wheelchair basketball Wheelchair fencing Wheelchair rugby Wheelchair tennis


The Rio 2016 Paralympic Torch Relay involved five Brazilian cities – Brasilia, Belem, Natal, Sao Paulo and Joinville - and Stoke Mandeville in Great Britain before the six flames were brought together virtually to create the Paralympic Flame on Tuesday 6 September.

Following the creation of the Paralympic Flame, the Torch Relay visited a number of locations in Rio, including the Christ the Redeemer statue, before arriving at the Opening Ceremony on 7 September.


Both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies took place at the world famous Maracana Stadium.

The Opening Ceremony on 7 September was a spectacular affair based around the theme “The heart has no limits. Everybody has a heart” and the Games were officially open by Brazil’s President Michel Temer.

The Ceremony took the audience on a journey which celebrated the origins of Paralympic sport at Stoke Mandeville in Great Britain, as well as Brazil’s love for dance, music, sport and the beach.

It began with a countdown started by extreme wheelchair athlete Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham, who travelled at high speed down a 17-metre-high ramp, the equivalent of a six-storey building, before jumping through a panel featuring the number zero.

The parade of athletes was led into the Maracana by Ibrahim Al-Hussein, the flag bearer for the International Paralympic Athletes (IPA) team. During the parade volunteers pieced together a giant jigsaw puzzle made up of 1,160 pieces which formed a picture featuring 6,315 photos of those taking part.

US Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy delighted the crowd with a dance partner she had kept secret until the big night – an industrial robot called Kuka – in a segment exploring man’s coexistence with technology.

The lighting of the cauldron by Brazilian swimming legend Clodoaldo Silva was greeted with a huge roar after an emotionally-charged final stage of the Paralympic flame’s journey around Brazil.


China topped the medals table for a fourth successive Paralympic Games claiming 239 medals in total, made up of 107 gold, 81 silver and 51 bronze. The top five was made-up of Great Britain, Ukraine, USA and Australia.

Kazakhstan (1 gold), Georgia (1 gold), Malaysia (3 golds), Uzbekistan (8 golds) and Vietnam (1 gold) won Paralympic titles for the first time, whilst Cape Verde, Mozambique, Qatar and Uganda claimed their first ever medals at a Paralympic Games.

In total 83 countries won at least one medal, the most ever in Paralympic history.

Find here more information on all attending countries.


The Rio 2016 Paralympics were the best Games ever in terms of athletic performance.

Belarusian swimmer Ihar Boki was the most decorated athlete taking home six gold medals and a bronze. In track and field, the USA’s Tatyana McFadden claimed six medals, made up of four golds and two silver, whilst Cuba’s Omara Durand reaffirmed her position as the world’s fastest female Paralympian winning three sprint golds and breaking two world records.

In powerlifting Iran’s Siamand Rahman created history by becoming the first Paralympian to lift over 300kg. The world’s strongest Paralympian eventually lifted a staggering 310kg, equivalent to a large Siberian tiger.

The “Paralympic Pele” Jefinho was the star of the show in football 5-a-side scoring some outstanding goals as Brazil claimed its fourth successive Paralympic title in the sport.

After adding to their bulging medal collections in Rio, Great Britain’s Sarah Storey and New Zealand’s Sophie Pascoe became the most decorated Paralympians from their respective countries.

The star performer for hosts Brazil was swimmer Daniel Dias who, in winning nine medals, made the podium more than any other athlete at the Games. He finished with four gold, three silver and two bronze medals.

Find here more information on all attending athletes.


Despite initial slow ticket sales, the Games attracted 2.15 million spectators making Rio 2016 the second biggest Games in terms of paying ticket holders after London 2012. The Rio public – the Cariocas – turned out in force creating a carnival atmosphere in many of the venues as whole generations of families enjoyed the sport on show.

Online the Games reached more people than ever before with the IPC’s digital media activities engaging close to one billion people.

The IPC website had nearly twice as many visitors during Rio 2016 as it did during London 2012. The website showed live coverage from 13 sports and featured live results from all 22 sports.

The Games were the most broadcast in the history of the Paralympics and were covered by television, radio and online outlets in a record 154 countries.


At the Closing Ceremony, it was announced by the IPC President that the people of Rio and Brazil would be awarded the Paralympic Order in recognition of their outstanding support for the Rio 2016 Games.

Earlier, Sir Philip had led the capacity crowd in a moment of silence in tribute to Iranian cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad and paid tribute to the performances of all athletes.

“Paralympians, your exceptional performances focussed the world on your sensational abilities,” said Sir Philip. “People were in awe at what you could do and forgot about what they believed you could not. You showed to the world that with a positive attitude the human body, and above all the human heart and mind, knows no limits and absolutely anything is possible.

“You defied expectations, rewrote the record books and turned ill-found pity into pride. You are now heroes and role models for a new generation of sports fans from all over the world.”

The distinctive cry of ‘Brazil’ rang out again at the Maracana as the Brazilian flag was paraded by Ricardinho, the match-winner for Brazil in the final of the football 5-a-side tournament.

The Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award for the two Paralympians who were considered to best exemplify the spirit and values of the Games was presented to the USA’s Tatyana McFadden and Ibrahim Al Hussein, who competed under the Paralympic flag for the IPA team.

The ceremony featured performances from a host of Brazilian musicians.