Similarities and differences at Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games by mky16363


									      Similarities and differences at Summer Olympic and
   Paralympic Games. "Numbers" under the magnifying glass
                            Katalin Kälbli1, Szilvia Gita1, Péter Osváth1
                                   Faculty of Physical Education and Sport Sciences,
                                     Semmelweis University, Budapest Hungary


   Nowadays one of the most prestigious sport events is the Olympic Games. After the Olympic
   Games, in the same year at the same place a similarly prestigious event – the Paralympic Games –
   takes place, which gives possibility for people with disability to compete. The goal of our research
   was to compare the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games from the aspect of numbers through
   a document analysis. Spearman correlation was used to find the relationship between the ranks of
   the countries and also to compare the results with actual economic condition of the countries. We
   found that the number of athletes has been continuously increasing in both games. Differences
   were found between the two games in the number of participant countries from different
   continents. We can assume that there is a significant, linear correlation between the Olympic and
   in Paralympic ranks of the countries. According to the research results however, neither the
   Olympic nor the Paralympic ranking is correlated with the actual economic condition (GDP) of the

                                                                legislative      power has issued numerous
Introduction                                                    statements      and declarations, including the
     Approximately       600     million    people
worldwide (10–15 per cent of all human beings)
                                                                • In 1948 the World Health Organization (WHO)
have some kind of disability. (Földesiné, 1994;
                                                                  declared in its Constitution that “the enjoyment
Laczkó, 1999; Sibilski, 2000). The existence and
                                                                  of the highest attainable standard of health is
problem of persons with a disability is as old as
                                                                  one of the fundamental rights of every human
mankind. Since the negative attitude and
                                                                  being” (WHO, 1948).
prejudice towards persons with a disability has
                                                                • In 1978, the United Nations Educational,
decreased and science has developed, our
                                                                  Scientific     and     Cultural     Organization
society’s important task is not only to increase
                                                                  (UNESCO) stated in its International Charter
life expectancy but also to ensure the quality of
                                                                  of Physical Education and Sport that every
social life for persons with a disability (Kálmán-
                                                                  person is entitled to participate in sport,
Könczey, 2002). To support this idea, the
                                                                  including especially women, young people, the

                        European Bulletin of Adapted Physical Activity Volume 7, Issue 1 (2008)
                                                   ISSN 1379-0595
  elderly and pesons with a disability (UNESCO,                  world’s attention like no other event. At this
  1978).                                                         competition, appearing for a worldwide audience,
• According to the position statement on human                   large states (like the USA, China, Australia,
  rights, which was adapted by the International                 Russia, etcetera) have the opportunity to
  Paralympic Committee (IPC) in 2004; every                      demonstrate their power, small states (like also
  individual should enjoy access to and                          Hungary is) can win recognition for special
  opportunities for leisure, recreation and                      achievements, and new states, participating in
  sporting activities. The IPC believes both sport               the introductory Parade of Nations, receive
  and human rights are for all (Craven et al.,                   worldwide validation as members of the
  2006).                                                         international community. The idea of the
                                                                 Olympism was to educate and encourage (Shippi,
     It has been proved by numerous researchers                  2007). The best athletes in the world come
(Wells and Hooker, 1990; Paulsen, P. at al., 1990;               together every four years to compete.
Craven at al., 2006), that sports and recreation
have a positive health impact on athletes in the                      The Paralympic Games are the equivalent of
sense that increasing physical activity mitigates                the Olympic Games for athletes with a physical
the effects of many chronic health problems.                     disability or a visual impairment. The
                                                                 Paralympic games originated as an event with a
      In the United States, it was found that for                strong social and therapeutic orientation in 1948,
every US Dollar spent on physical activity, 3.20                 when the Stoke Mandeville Games were held in
US Dollar is saved in medical costs (Pratt et al.,               Aylesbury, England, the same year as the games
2000). Consequently, it is also in the interest of               of the 14th Olympiad were being held in London.
the state to encourage persons with a disability to              The idea of the games is attributed to Doctor Sir
regularly take part in some kind of physical                     Ludwig Guttmann, who included sports in the
activity. The annual loss of gross domestic                      rehabilitation of injured World War II veterans
product (GDP) due to having persons with a                       (Paciorek, 2005). The first official summer
disability out of work is between 1.37 and 1.94                  Paralympic Games were held in Rome in 1960
trillion US Dollars (Metts, 2000).                               (Nádas, 2005). Since then, the Olympic and
                                                                 Paralympic Games have led a parallel existence.
                                                                 The 1988 Seoul games marked the beginning of
     Through sports persons develop a
                                                                 the modern Paralympic Games, for the first time
competitive spirit, self-discipline, and self-
                                                                 the term Paralympic was used. Since 1996 all
respect. It enhances the quality of life and
                                                                 bids for the Olympic Games must be submitted
increases a person’s opportunities, options and
                                                                 by joint Olympic and Paralympic Committees
experiences (Steward and Walsh 1984). Human
                                                                 (Paciorek, 2005). The Games have become the
action-oriented playfulness involves cognitive,
                                                                 most important sporting event for persons with a
social and physical spontaneity, humor, personal
                                                                 disability. We can assume, that nowadays the
empowerment and manifest joy (Lytle, 1999). In
                                                                 sport of persons with a disability means much
sports therapy physical movements are the tools
                                                                 more than therapy. It inspires athletes to
of rehabilitation, which help the individuals to
                                                                 maximal physical performance. One is
become independent. The desire for competing
                                                                 considered an athlete rather than a patient.
and to overcome our fellows or maybe even
                                                                 (Steward and Walsh 1984).
ourselves is a human characteristic (Nádas,
2000), which motivates both able-bodied and
persons with a disability. This is how the tool of                    Analyzing the history of these two
rehabilitation has become the main goal of                       prestigious events shows similarities and
persons with a disability throughout decades and                 differences as well. The initiation and the idea of
created the competitive sports opportunities.                    both games came from one person. The founder
                                                                 of the modern Olympic games was Pierre Fredi
                                                                 de Coubertin (MOB), and the founder of the
     The Olympic Games are now the largest,
                                                                 summer Paralympic games was Sir Ludwig
regularly scheduled international gathering in the
                                                                 Guttmann (MPB). The name „Olympic” alludes
world, and as such they constitute a major
                                                                 to the location of the antique games, while
political showplace. The Games draw the
                                                                 „Paralympic” means parallel with Olympic

                         European Bulletin of Adapted Physical Activity Volume 7, Issue 1 (2008)
                                                    ISSN 1379-0595
(Nádas, 2002). Papakonstantopoulus (2004)                        oriented rehabilitation (Greve et al, 1992). The
points out other similarities and differences                    physical and societal barriers to participate in
between the games. In accordance with his                        physical activity and sports are often difficult to
opinion the similarities are the following:                      overcome for persons with a disability. One
                                                                 recent survey showed that 56 per cent of persons
• Both Paralympic and Olympic movements are                      with a disability, versus 36 per cent of persons
  based on the fundamental principle of the                      without a disability reported not to participate in
  Olympic Charter. Both games are organized                      daily exercise (Rimmer et al., 2004). It must be
  for athletes (with or without a disability) who                also mentioned that over the past 40 years, an
  are inspired by the Olympic motto „Citius-                     ever increasing amount of sports programs has
  Altius-Fortius”, requiring competitive sports                  been offered to persons with a disability
  performances, high ethnical standards and                      worldwide (Doll-Tepper, 1991). A previous
  great courage.                                                 investigation reported no linear correlation
• Since 1988 the Paralympic games have been                      between the countries’ economic situation and
  held immediately following the Olympics in                     sports participation rate (Palm, 1991). The
  the same host city.                                            president of the Hungarian Paralympic
                                                                 Committee – Mr. Pal Nadas – stipulates that
                                                                 there are more factors contribute to a nation’s
    The differences between both games include:
                                                                 Paralympic success, for example war. The
                                                                 injured war-veterans are girdled with honor and
• Name and symbols. In 1985 the International                    appreciation in all part of the world. Thus it is
  Olympic Committee stipulated that all                          not surprising, that the “Parasport movement”
  disability sports organizations must refrain                   started to develop after World War II. The
  from using the world „Olympic”                                 countries, where there was war in the near past,
• The structure and governance of Paralympic                     achieve better results also nowadays in
  sports. Olympic sports are organized by able-                  Paralympic Games (Gergely, 2005). In other
  bodied international federations but in                        countries the success in sport is a political matter,
  contrast, Paralympic sports are organized as a                 and is irrespective of the actual economic status
  mixture of federations by sport (e.g.                          of the country. Other determinants of Paralympic
  basketball), or federations by disability (e.g.                success include sponsorship, which is based on
  CP-ISRA) or in some cases as a part of the                     the market. In this case, it is the goal of the firm
  able-bodied sport federations (e.g. tennis).                   (who makes and develops special sport
  According to the author’s opinion, Paralympic                  equipment) to achieve as good as possible results.
  sports might be integrated into the able-bodied                There are countries beside (also Hungary), where
  sports federations in the near future.                         athletes are amateur, and they trying to achieve
• The essential difference is the classification. It             mostly from self power (Gergely, 2005).
  makes the Paralympic games unique and very
  popular in athletes with disability, while at the                    The aim of the research
  same time confusing for the general public to
  watch. A high-quality classification system
                                                                     The parallel development of the two
  protects athletes with a disability from unfair
                                                                 prestigious games –Olympic and Paralympic
  competition, although in some cases the
                                                                 Games- was proved by many researchers
  excessive proliferation of classes and medals
                                                                 (Papkonstantopoulus, 2004; Nádas, 2005). We
  had raised questions about the credibility of
                                                                 were interested in the development of these two
  the Paralympics or the level of achievement of
                                                                 games from a quantitative point of view.
  the winners.
                                                                 Therefore our goal is to compare these
                                                                 prestigious events. Our research focused only on
    The question, what is on the background of                   summer games. Following questions are to be
the outstanding achievement, is always before                    answered by our research:
the researchers. It is assumed that one of
thousand persons with a disability worldwide has
                                                                 • How have the number of the participating
got the opportunity to take part in any kind of
                                                                   nations and athletes evolved in the Olympic
sport, adapted physical education or movement-

                         European Bulletin of Adapted Physical Activity Volume 7, Issue 1 (2008)
                                                    ISSN 1379-0595
    and Paralympic Games? It is hypothesized that                 Spearman correlation to compare these data with
    the number of participating athletes and                      the rank of the countries in the Athens
    nations is bigger at the Olympic Games as a                   Paralympic Games.
    result of longer history.
•   Which continents’ participation is dominant in
    Olympic and Paralympic Games? It is                           Results and discussion
    supposed that we find differences between the
    two games.                                                    Number of participants, countries and sport
•   Are the number of sports and sport events the                 events
    same on the two games? It is hypothetic that
    because of the Paralympic classification, there
    are more sport events included in the
    Paralympic program.
•   Is there a linear correlation between the
    Olympic and Paralympic ranks of countries?
    We supposed that there is no correlation.
    Countries, which have good positions in the
    Olympic ranks do not necessarily have a good
    position in Paralympic ranks.
•   Does the countries’ actual economic situation
    (GDP) have an effect on the Paralympic result
    of the countries? We supposed that there is a
    linear correlation between these two facts.                       Figure 1: Number of participating athletes in the
                                                                         Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games.

                                                                       The first modern Olympic Games were held
Methods                                                           in 1896 in Athens. Due to more than 100 years of
                                                                  history of the modern Olympic Games it is not
     A document analysis was used to obtain the                   surprising, that the number of athletes at the
historical data. The analysis was based on                        Olympic Games has been multiplied, it is forty
records, official documents, internet data and                    times more than at the first games (it has been
links, administrative texts, and formal reports on                increased from 245 to 10500 athletes). The
history, results and statistical data.                            Paralympic Games have also undergone a huge
                                                                  development during its less than 50 years long.
     The correlation between the rank of the                      The Paralympics Games have been formally
counties –according to the official medal tallies-                listed since 1960, Rome. The 4000 athletes of the
in the Olympic and Paralympic summer games                        Athens Paralympic Games were ten times more
have been analyzed with Spearman correlation.                     then the number of athletes who competed in
As well, we compared the ranks of the two                         Rome. In fact, the number of athletes has been
games including all Olympic and Paralympic                        continuously increasing in both games, but we
summer games from 1960, when the first official                   can notice a “break” in the number of
Paralympic summer games were held (Nádas,                         participants at the 1984 Olympic Games (the
2005).                                                            number of participating athletes is less, than
                                                                  years before) and in the same year were the most
    The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a                         participants at the Paralympic Games (Figure 1).
country is defined as the market value of all final               This fact can be attributed to the fact that
goods and services produced within a country in                   socialist states refused to participate on the
a given period of time, it is one of the ways for                 Olympic Games, but they did not think that the
measuring the size of a countries’ economy                        Paralympic Games are such important and
(WIKIPEDIA). We gathered the list of countries’                   prestigious events so they let their athletes with
GDP in the same year with Athens Summer                           disability compete.
Paralympic Games (GDP 2004) and used

                          European Bulletin of Adapted Physical Activity Volume 7, Issue 1 (2008)
                                                     ISSN 1379-0595
     More and more nations join both the                        Paralympic Games (Nádas, 2005). Men had the
Olympic and Paralympic movement. In Athens                      possibility to compete in 344 events, and women
202 nations took part on the Olympic Games                      could take part in 202 events (IPC). These data
(IOC), and in the same year on the Paralympic                   can be originated in two facts. First of all the
Games 135 nations (IPC). (At the first modern                   sport possibilities can not be extended forever for
Olympic Games 14 and at the first Paralympic                    people with disability, because not every sport
Games 23 nations were presented.) Considering                   can be adapted for people with different kinds of
the geographical origin and distribution of                     disabilities. On the other hand, Paralympic
participant nations, differences can be realized                athletes are classified according to disability. In
between the two events. At the Athens Olympic                   the past the classification was based on medical
Games most of the countries were from the                       condition, but presently classification is moving
African continent. (It took part 53 countries from              towards functional classification (Steadward and
Africa, 42 countries from America, 44 countries                 Peterson, 1997). This system guarantees the
from Asia, 48 countries from Europe and 15                      same rights and chances for athletes with
countries from Oceania at the Athens Olympic                    disability, but also has effect on increasing
Games) At the Athens Paralympic Games                           number of events. In some Paralympic sports (i.e.
European countries have the highest (33%)                       tennis) there are just two classes, while in other
percentage of participation. The distribution of                sports or events (i.e. athletics, swimming) there
the participants countries were the following: 28               are many disability types and it may be
countries from Africa, 24 countries from                        necessary to have many classes in the same type
America, 33 countries from Asia, 45 countries                   of disability (Papakonstantopoulus, 2004). This
from Europe and 5 countries from Oceania                        higher events-number can also be observed when
(Figure 2).                                                     we investigate the medal tally in the two
                                                                Summer Games. Currently in the Paralympic
                                                                Games there are more than 250 gold medals
                                                                awarded in athletics and about 150 gold medals
                                                                awarded in swimming, while the corresponding
                                                                award numbers of the Olympic Games are 46
                                                                and 32 respectively (Papakonstantopoulus, 2004).

                                                                      To analyze the number of different type of
                                                                sports on the Olympic and Paralympic Summer
                                                                Games we divided the sports to 6 groups
                                                                according to the profiles of sports (Rigler, 2001).
                                                                Sport games are such human activities, which are
                                                                played according to unit roles. Their
 Figure 2: Distribution of Olympic and Paralympic               characteristics are the arrhythmic movements,
        Committees by continents in 2004.
                                                                game dependent field size, common instrument
                                                                (it is usually a ball). The aim of the game is to
     While the number of the sports has increased               get more scores or goals than the other (Halmos,
more than three times in the Olympic Games, the                 1994). Aesthetics may be defined narrowly as
number of the events has widened in the                         the theory of beauty (The internet encyclopedia
Paralympic Games. At the first modern Olympic                   of philosophy). Based on this statement under
Games only male athletes could take part in the                 the group “aesthetic-sports” fall disciplines
competitions in 43 events of 9 sports. In Athens                where athletes get points for technical execution
29 sports were listed with 301 events where the                 of the movement, so the aesthetics of the
athletes from different nations could compete                   movement influences the results. It can be
against each other and prove their talent and                   assumed, that for both able-bodied athletes and
skills. In 133 events of 26 sports women also had               people with disabilities most of the sport events
the possibility to take part (Tóth, 2004). The 8                are sport games (Figure 3). It is however
sport possibilities of the Rome Paralympic                      remarkable, that the “aesthetic-sports” are fully
Games have also widened throughout the                          missing from the program of the Summer
decades: 19 sports were presented in the Athens                 Paralympic Games. This fact can be originated

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                                                   ISSN 1379-0595
from the healthy, fit ideal role model of the 21st                 swimming were the most successful. Because of
century, who aspires to perfection, health and                     the classification system on Paralympic sport
soundness. Most people accept people with                          (Steadward and Peterson, 1997), from these
disabilities doing track and field or sports games                 results we can not draw definite consequences in
but they find gymnastics or other “aesthetic”                      connection with Olympic results. As we take for
sports too difficult to do and it would just require               example swimming at the Paralympic Games
so many changes in the sport that it would loose                   within one sport there are other sub-categories
its main characteristic. They therefore prefer to                  according to types and severity of disability to
leave the “aesthetic” sports out of the program.                   have equal chance for participation. We can state
                                                                   though, that at the Olympic Games Hungarian
                                                                   won several medals in team games, but on the
                                                                   Paralympic Games the ball games are not the
                                                                   most successful. The reason for not being
                                                                   successful is the economical wealthy status what
                                                                   is needed for the special equipments such as
                                                                   special wheelchairs for tennis or basketball.

                                                                   Background of the Olympic and Paralympic

     Figure 3: Distribution of sports disciplines.                      The Olympic and Paralympic ranks of 46
                                                                   countries were compared and our hypothesis –
Hungarians on the Olympic and Paralympic                           stated that there is no connection between the
Games                                                              Olympic and Paralympic ranks of a country –
                                                                   proved to be –surprisingly- mistaken. There is
                                                                   significant, linear correlation between the
     Since 1896 Hungary has been participating
                                                                   Olympic and Paralympic ranks of the countries.
regularly –except the Olympic Games of Los
                                                                   (The correlation coefficient –Spearman R- is
Angeles in 1984 – on the Olympic Games. On
                                                                   0,510095, and p level= 0,0) Those countries
the first modern Games 7 athletes represented
                                                                   which have better results in the Olympic ranking
Hungary (Keresztényi, 1980) while in Athens
                                                                   have better place in the Paralympic ranking as
219 athletes were delegated. Only in 1972
                                                                   well. The correlation between the ranks of the
Hungary received invitation to join the
                                                                   Athens Olympic and Paralympic Games and the
Paralympic movement (Gita and Kälbli, 2004).
                                                                   GDP of the countries –as one of the most
Since that time the Hungarian athletes have been
                                                                   frequently used data for economic prescription
taken part on the games with year to year
                                                                   (WIKIPEDIA) - were also analyzed. The results
increasing number of athletes and coaches. The
                                                                   were also unexpected. According to the
shorter historical background is shown in the
                                                                   correlation results it can be stated, that neither
number of participants. In the Olympic Games
                                                                   the Olympic nor the Paralympic ranking is
the Hungarian athletes represent 2-5% of the
                                                                   correlated with the actual economic condition
participating athletes, but in the Paralympic
                                                                   (GDP) of the countries. The correlation
Games this ratio is only 1%. In 2004, Athens 38
                                                                   coefficient was 0,238919 by GDP-Paralympic
Hungarian athletes represented our country on
                                                                   research (p-level= 0,148567), and it was 0,15899
the Paralympic Games. All the above mentioned
                                                                   by GDP-Olympic correlation (p-level: 0,340352).
data have influence on the results. While at the
Olympic Games Hungary twice (1936, 1952)
finished on 3rd in the Olympic point competition,
At the Paralympic Games the best position was                      Conclusions
15th in 1984 (Nádas, 2005).
                                                                       The number of athletes has been
    With regards to the medals the most                            continuously increasing in both Olympic and
Hungarian Olympic medals are in fencing but on                     Paralympic Games. At the Olympic Games (due
the Paralympic Games the Hungarian athletes in                     to more than 100 years of history of the games)

                           European Bulletin of Adapted Physical Activity Volume 7, Issue 1 (2008)
                                                      ISSN 1379-0595
the number of athletes has been multiplied, it is               Paralympic ranks of the countries. Those
forty times more than at the first games. During                countries, which have better results in the
the less than 50 years long history of the                      Olympic ranking have better place in the
Paralympic Games we could observe also a huge                   Paralympic ranking as well. It was also
development. The 4000 athletes of the Athens                    surprising, that neither the Olympic nor the
Paralympic Games were ten times more then the                   Paralympic ranking is correlated with the actual
number of athletes who competed in Rome on                      economic condition (GDP) of the countries.
the first official Paralympic Summer Games.
Also the number of participating countries has                       Quantitative growth can not be the main
been increasing in both games.                                  goal of the sport for people with disabilities. The
                                                                quality is more important. The selection of
    We found differences between the two                        athletes, in case of able-bodied athletes, is
games in the number of participant countries                    realized from a larger number of populations in a
from different continents. At the Athens Olympic                natural and also in an artificial way, while for
Games most of the countries were from the                       people with disabilities this “basis of athletes”
African continent and at the Athens Paralympic                  consists of given number of people. The future’s
Games European countries have the highest                       Paralympic athletes must be brought up from this
percentage of participation.                                    basis. Because of these reasons the goal is – for
                                                                the successful selection of talented athletes – to
While the number of sports has increased more                   establish and improve the conditions and
than three times in the Olympic Games, the                      possibilities of sports activities and with its help
number of the events has widened in the                         to set up magnetic alternatives which encourages
Paralympic Games because of the classification                  people with disabilities to be active and perhaps
in sports for people with disability.                           offering them a choice for improving the quality
                                                                of life. This can be realized – in high level sport
As the background of the Paralympic results we                  – by a just classification system and with
can assume, that there is significant, linear                   guarantee of equal possibilities, just like for able
                                                                bodied athletes.
correlation between the Olympic and in

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                        European Bulletin of Adapted Physical Activity Volume 7, Issue 1 (2008)
                                                   ISSN 1379-0595

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