When Do the Paralympics Start? Date, Time for Tokyo 2020 Games

The 2020 Paralympic Games are to be held from August 24 to September 5.

They will be held in Tokyo, the Japanese capital, and will feature 539 events across 22 sports at 21 venues.

The sporting events featured include swimming and athletics, both of which are scheduled to be held on 10 of the 12 days of the Games.

Athletics will hold the largest number of individual events at the Paralympics, while badminton and taekwondo will make their debut this year, according to the Paralympics website.

When and Where Are the Paralympics Being Held?

The Opening Ceremony of the Paralympics will take place on August 24 at 8:00 p.m. local time in Tokyo (7:00 a.m. ET).

Ever since the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea and the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France, the Paralympics have been held in the same cities and venues as the Olympics "due to an agreement between the IPC [International Paralympic Committee] and IOC [International Olympic Committee]," according to the Paralympics website.

See the Paralympics website for the full schedule of sporting events to be held throughout the Games.

The 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan.
The Paralympic Flame displayed after its lighting ceremony at the State Guest House Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, Japan on August 20. Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP via Getty Images

What Are the Paralympics ?

According to the Paralympics website, the word "Paralympic" is a combination of the Greek preposition "para," which means beside or alongside and the word "Olympic."

"Its meaning is that Paralympics are the parallel Games to the Olympics and illustrates how the two movements exist side-by-side," says the website.

How Did the Paralympic Games Begin?

The Paralympic Games were founded by Sir Ludwig Guttmann, a Jewish doctor who went to the U.K. after fleeing Nazi Germany.

At the request of the British Government, in 1944 Guttmann opened a spinal injuries center at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in England and "in time, rehabilitation sport evolved to recreational sport and then to competitive sport," the Paralympics website explains.

Guttmann organized the first competition for wheelchair athletes (named the "Stoke Mandeville Games") on July 29 in 1948, which was the day of the Opening Ceremony of the London 1948 Olympic Games. The Stoke Mandeville Games saw 16 injured servicemen and women compete in archery.

The Stoke Mandeville Games later became the Paralympic Games and in 1960 the first Paralympics were held in Rome, Italy. The inaugural games featured 400 athletes from 23 countries.

Since then, the Paralympics have been held every four years. In 1976 the first Winter Paralympic Games were held in Sweden and have taken place every four years since then.

The 2020 Paralympics symbol in Tokyo.
The Paralympic symbol "The Three Agitos" installed in the waters of Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo on August 20. Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP via Getty Images

Paralympic Sports

Here are the sport event categories featured at the Paralympics.

  • Archery
  • Athletics
  • Badminton
  • Boccia
  • Canoe sprint
  • Cycling (road)
  • Cycling (track)
  • Equestrian
  • Football 5-a-side
  • Goalball
  • Judo
  • Powerlifting
  • Rowing
  • Shooting
  • Sitting volleyball
  • Swimming
  • Table tennis
  • Taekwondo
  • Triathlon
  • Wheelchair basketball
  • Wheelchair fencing
  • Wheelchair rugby
  • Wheelchair tennis

The graphic below, produced by Statista, shows the all-time top nations in the Paralympics.

Graphic of top nations in the Paralympics.