The 13th Summer Paralympic Games, held in Beijing in 2008, were a spectacle unparalleled in the history of disability sport. The games provided competition for 3,951 athletes from 146 countries, including six nations for the first time. This was the largest-ever number of nations at the Paralympics (ten more than in Athens). There were twenty sports; with the exception of adaptive rowing, which debuted in Beijing, all had been in the Paralympic program before.
The Beijing Games attracted the largest crowds to date in Paralympic history. Almost 3.5 million people watched the Games, with more than half paying for the privilege to attend live venues, while over 1.6 million children, education and community groups were given free tickets.
The Australian team at the Beijing Paralympics was supported by a very large medical contingent that consisted of 23 practitioners including doctors, physiotherapists, soft tissue therapists, a nurse, psychologist, dietician and a recovery specialist. The Australians were the only competing nation with a village-based, dedicated recovery centre. At the recovery centre, athletes were provided with contrast showers, cold showers, compression, stretching/active sessions and massage. Recovery practices like these were standard practice by top tier nations at the London Paralympics, but Australia led the way in this capacity in Beijing.
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