1980 Summer Paralympics

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VI Paralympic Games
Arnhem 1980 Para Games.jpg
Host city Arnhem, Netherlands
Nations participating 42
Athletes participating 1,973
Events 489 in 12 sports
Opening ceremony June 21
Closing ceremony June 30
Officially opened by Princess Margriet
Main venue National Sports Centre Papendal
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The 1980 Summer Paralympics (Dutch: Paralympische Zomerspelen 1980), branded as the Olympics for the Disabled, were the sixth Summer Paralympic Games. They were held in Arnhem, Netherlands, from June 21 to 30, 1980.


The Soviet Union, hosts of the 1980 Summer Olympics, were invited to host these Paralympics. However, disability sport was not yet well-developed there, and they passed; notoriously, a statement was issued denying the existence of any "invalids" there.[1] Soviet Paralympic teams were first represented in the 1988 Summer and Winter Games, also the last while the Soviet Union was extant. The first Paralympics on former Soviet territory would be in 2014.[2]

There was controversy during the preparation for these Games over the inclusion of a team from South Africa. In the Netherlands, public and official opinion was against the inclusion of the South African team and pressure came from a number of sports organisations against the Organising Committee. The Dutch Parliament was negative as well. Eventually, the parliament decided against allowing the participation of the South African team. Although "much of the publicity relating to the South African participation had been negative, it did succeed in bringing the disabled sports movement into the minds of many people who would not have otherwise considered the subject at all. Dutch organisers also increased visibility through their fundraising ... building a fund that would hold a surplus years after the games. This would naturally find its expression in the International Fund Sport Disabled, supporting the future of the paralympic movement in the 1980s."[3]


Competitors were divided into four disability categories: amputee, cerebral palsy, visually impaired, and wheelchair. It was the first time that cerebral palsy athletes competed in the Paralympics. Volleyball was added to the program as a new sport.[4]

Participating delegations[edit]

Forty-three delegations took part in the Arnhem Paralympics.[5]

Prior to the Games, the States General (national Parliament) of the Netherlands, as host country, adopted a motion declaring South Africa's participation "undesirable", due to its policy of apartheid. The 1980 Games thus marked South Africa's first absence from the Summer Paralympics since it had joined the movement in 1964, and it remained absent until 1992. The United States and other countries boycotted the Olympics because of the Soviet war in Afghanistan but they did not boycott the Paralympics. The Netherlands' decision thus corrected the anomaly whereby South Africa had been banned from the Olympic movement since 1960, while still being authorised to take part in the Paralympic Games.[6][7]

Medal table[edit]

The top 10 NPCs by number of gold medals are listed below. The host nation, Netherlands, is highlighted.

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1  United States 75 66 54 195
2  Poland 75 50 52 177
3  West Germany 67 48 46 161
4  Canada 64 35 31 130
5  Great Britain 47 32 21 100
6  Netherlands 33 31 36 100
7  Sweden 31 36 24 91
8  France 28 26 31 85
9  Mexico 20 16 6 42
10  Norway 15 13 8 36

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Russia's journey from "no invalids" to Paralympic champions". Rbth.com. 14 November 2013. Retrieved 30 October 2015. 
  2. ^ "Sochi 2014 Paralympics: IPC confident on venue accessibility". BBC Sport. Retrieved 3 March 2014. 
  3. ^ Bailey, Steve (2008). Athlete First: A history of the paralympic movement. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 38–39. ISBN 9780470058244. 
  4. ^ "Arnhem 1980". International Paralympic Committee. 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-06. 
  5. ^ "Medal Standings - Arnhem 1980 Paralympic Games". International Paralympic Committee. 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  6. ^ "'The Netherlands against Apartheid' - 1970s", International Institute of Social History
  7. ^ South Africa at the Paralympics, International Paralympic Committee

External links[edit]