Called at the time the Winter Olympic Games for the Disabled, the 1976 Örnsköldsvik Games are now recognised as the first Winter Paralympic Games. The Swedish Sports Organisation for the Disabled offered to host the games based on the long history of opportunities for skiers with disabilities in Europe. From the late 1940s, skiers with disabilities had been accommodated with specialised equipment and competitions. The earliest involvement included amputees, followed by vision-impaired skiers. The involvement of wheelchair users was slower due to the development of equipment; it wasn’t until the development of the sit ski in the mid 1980s that wheelchair users had opportunities to participate in more events.
Unique/ Special Features:
An important feature of these games was the inclusion and exclusion of specific disability groups. Up until this time the Summer Paralympics had been the exclusive realm of athletes with spinal cord injuries, whereas these Winter Paralympics were open to amputees and blind and vision impaired athletes, with no events available for those with spinal cord injuries.
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