1980s

This was a pivotal decade for the Paralympics movement.  Not only did the pioneer of the movement pass away in 1980 [see Sir Ludwig Guttmann and his Legacy] but relations between the International Stoke Mandeville Games Federation and the International Olympic Committee became more friendly. 

However, the 1980s began with a growing divergence between Olympics and Paralympics. Through the 1970s the host Olympic nation had hosted the Paralympics as well, even if it took place in another city. In 1972 the  Olympics were at Munich and Heidelberg hosted the Paralympics. In 1976 Montreal hosted the Olympics and Toronto the Paralympics. However, Moscow, the 1980s Olympic host, refused to also stage a Paralympics and instead these took place in Arnhem in the Netherlands.

There was a similar difficulty in 1984. Los Angeles was the Olympic host but there was a split between different disability groups over issues of accessibility and organisation.  The blind and partially sighted,  amputee and cerebral palsy athletes would compete in New York whilst the wheelchair athletes were to be hosted at Champaign, Illinois.  Three months prior to the Games financial problems meant that the venue fell through  and at the last minute  Stoke Mandeville had to step in to host a separate games.

The closer working relationship between the International Co-ordination Committee of World Sports Organisations for the Disabled (ICC, established in 1982, and made up of the various disabled sports organisations) and the International Olympic Committee led to more collaboration.  So in 1988, the Games was held shortly after the end of the Summer Olympic Games in Seoul.  This was the first Games officially titled the ‘Paralympic Games’ after the International Olympic Committee agreed that the term could be used [the term was coined from the combination of the words paraplegic and Olympic, but it is recognised that it is now the combination of parallel and Olympic that gives us the word Paralympic].  From 1988, it was agreed that the host city awarded the Olympic Games should also host the Paralympic Games afterwards, and the link between the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games was firmly established.  This was followed up in September 1989 by the foundation of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).