The Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games, held 16-25 August, was the largest to date with 3,259 athletes from 104 countries participating. Athletes with intellectual disability were included, unlike in 1992. The games were notable because they pioneered several features that have become integral elements of subsequent Paralympics. A Cultural Paralympiad was included, and the establishment of a corporate sponsorship program resulted in the effective privatisation of the Games.
The introduction of strategies to enhance athletic performances was innovative and lasting, and the move from a disability-specific to a sport-specific approach to the preparation and selection of team members changed the future of Australian Paralympic sport. Organisational difficulties in Atlanta, together with inferior accommodation and venues for training and competition, convinced the IPC and the Sydney bid committee for 2000 that close integration of the Paralympics with the Olympics was necessary.
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