The Parapan American Games are a multi-sport event for para-athletes (athletes with disabilities) from 28 countries in the Americas and the Caribbean. They are held every four years, during the same year as the Pan American Games. The first Parapan Games were held in 1999, and since 2007, they have been held in the same location as the Pan American Games. They are conducted in a similar manner to the Paralympic Summer Games and held one year prior to them. The Parapan Am Games serve as qualifiers for the next Paralympic Summer Games.

The Games

The Parapan American (Parapan Am) Games are governed by the Americas Paralympic Committee (APC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). They are open to para-athletes from 28 countries in the Americas and the Caribbean; the countries must have National Paralympic Committees that are in good standing with both the APC and the IPC.

The first Parapan Am Games were held in 1999 in Mexico City, with 1,000 athletes from 18 nations competing in four sports. The 2003 Games in Mar del Plata, Argentina, saw an increase in both participation and events; since then, the number of sports have continued to increase while participation levels have fluctuated. Beginning in 2007, the Parapan Games have been held in the same location as the Pan Am Games.

Year

Location

Nations

Athletes

Sports

1999

Mexico City, Mexico

18

1,000

4

2003

Mar del Plata, Argentina

28

1,500

9

2007

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

25

1,150

10

2011

Guadalajara, Mexico

26

1,300

13

2015

Toronto, Ontario

28

1,600

15

Sports

The Parapan Am Games feature summer sports, including events and disciplines that will be on the official programme of the following year’s Paralympic Summer Games; in many cases, the events have served as qualifiers for the Paralympics. At the2015 Parapan Am Games in Toronto, Ontario, all sports will be qualifying events for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Sports at the 2015 Parapan Am Games

Archery

Powerlifting

Athletics

Sitting Volleyball

Boccia

Swimming

Cycling (road and track)

Table Tennis

Football 5-a-side

Wheelchair Basketball

Football 7-a-side

Wheelchair Rugby

Goalball

Wheelchair Tennis

Judo

Para-Athletes and Athlete Classification

The Parapan Am Games are open to any athlete with a disability; this includes physical disabilities, visual impairment, and intellectual disabilities.

Physical Disabilities: this category includes amputee athletes, athletes with spinal cord injuries, athletes with cerebral palsy, and a classification known as Les Autres (athletes with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, polio, spina bifida, and a number of other physical disabilities).

Visual Impairment: this includes athletes with partial sight and those who are completely blind.

Intellectual Disabilities: this category includes athletes who have a cognitive impairment that affects brain function.

In order to ensure fair competition, para-athletes are classified according to the impact of their impairment on athletic performance. The International Federation (governing body) of each sport develops its own classification system and assigns classifiers who evaluate and assign athletes to specific “sport classes.”

Some sports (such as swimming and athletics) are open to athletes with physical, visual, or intellectual impairments. Other events are limited — for example, goalball and Football 5-a-side are only open to athletes with visual impairment, and players wear eyeshades to ensure that everyone competes at the same level.

Canada at the Games

Canadian para-athletes have competed at all Parapan American Games and have medalled in many events and disciplines, including athletics, swimming, road and track cycling, wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, boccia, judo, goalball, and archery. At the 2007 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Canada finished in second place overall with 112 medals (including 49 gold medals).

Canadian Medals and Ranking

Year

Host

Rank

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Total

1999

Mexico City

9th

4

3

3

10

2003

Mar del Plata

5th

13

7

3

23

2007

Rio de Janeiro

2nd

49

37

26

112

2011

Guadalajara

8th

13

22

28

63

2015

Toronto

2nd 50 63 55 168