This Is What the “Para” in Paralympics Actually Stands for

This Is What the “Para” in Paralympics Actually Stands for

It has a more significant meaning.

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics have begun and competing nations once again wait with bated breath on how their talented athletes are going to perform. Will their athletes with disabilities bring home more medals or come home empty-handed? Regardless, this is yet another opportunity for every country to be proud of its representatives. 

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The Paralympic games are all about providing persons with disabilities, such as those with impaired muscle power, short stature, and vision impairment, the opportunity to prove that their conditions don’t limit them from competing in the sport they’re passionate about. Given that, a lot of people seem to have concluded that the “para” in “Paralympics” actually means “paralysis” or “paraplegic.” It’s a common misconception.

The fact is, “para” actually derives from the word “parallel.” There’s an even deeper explanation for it. According to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), “Paralympic” comes from the combination of the Greek preposition “para” and the word “Olympic.” As you may already know, “para” translates to “side by side.”


Hence, “Paralympic” actually means that these games for persons with disabilities are parallel to the Olympic games. They exist side by side and not one on top of the other. It’s a truly symbolic name that affirms that athletes with physical disadvantages aren’t any less talented or important than athletes who don’t have “disabilities.” 

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Tokyo 2020 Paralympics will run until 5 Sept 2021. If you want to know more about the history of Paralympics and be up to date with the competitions and results, check out the official IPC website.

Who’s your favourite Paralympic athlete so far? Drop us a comment on our Facebook page!

All images credited to Paralympic Games | Official Twitter Page

About Author

Therese Sta. Maria
Therese Sta. Maria

Therese's close friends know that if they haven’t seen her around recently, then she’s probably having an adventure with her luggage and camera in hand. Though she loves staying at home and spending lazy afternoons with friends, there are times when she has to be "away from home to feel at home," — that’s when she’s bitten by the travel bug. See her travels on Instagram @reesstamaria.