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Basketball for athletes with intellectual disabilities at the Paralympic Games

Basketball for athletes with intellectual disabilities had the shortest Paralympic Games career of any sport. It was first featured in the 1996 Atlanta Games, and then again in Sydney in 2000. However, the sport was removed from the program following the Sydney games, and athletes with intellectual impairments were banned from the Paralympic Games. The ban was lifted again after 12 years, in 2012.

The scoring system for the sport was the same as that of able-bodied basketball. One point is earned for a free throw, two points for a normal basket and three points for a throw from outside the three-point-line arc. The athlete with the most points at the end of the game wins.

It is unknown if the sport will make a return to the Paralympic Games, hopefully it will one day.

Following the Spanish teams success in Sydney it was later revealed that only two of the team of 12 players actually had an intellectual disability. The rest of the team were able-bodied athletes. Immediately they were stripped of their medals and the sport was removed from the Paralympic program. The IPC had decided that it was too challenging to identify whether or not an athlete had a legitimate intellectual disability. A sad time for the history of sport.

Thankfully, they have introduced a system to ensure that competing athletes are legitimately intellectually disabled.

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Paralympics Extra

The next Summer Paralympics will be in Paris 2024, followed by the 2026 Winter Paralympics. Also, check out the list of Paralympic sports, and top medal winners.

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