Twenty-five years after one of the most iconic Paralympic Games ever staged, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven has joined Spanish, Catalan and sporting dignitaries to celebrate the anniversary of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The ceremony at the Palacete Albeniz (Albeniz Palace) in Barcelona was also attended by Spanish King Felipe VI, Catalunya Generalitat President Carles Puigdemont, Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, as well as numerous Spanish Paralympic and Olympic athletes.
A torch relay from the Palacete Albeniz to the Plaça de Catalunya also took place, with Paralympic archer Antonio Rebollo recreating his famous lightning of the Olympic cauldron, 25 years ago, when he became the first and only Paralympian to have ever lit the Olympic cauldron.
Speaking at the ceremony, Sir Philip highlighted the huge impact the 1992 Paralympics had for transforming the city and the Paralympic Movement. “Barcelona 1992 changed the Paralympic Movement forever. I will always cherish the wonderful memories from the Games,” he said.
“It is always a pleasure to be back in this great city. The Games truly transformed the city. Barcelona opened to the sea thanks to the construction of the Village and the Olympic Port. Today it is a big tourist destination and an example of how a city can improve its accessibility for all.”
The Barcelona 1992 Paralympic Games, held from 3-14 September, are regarded as one of the best ever thanks to their first-class organisation, packed stadiums, a huge infrastructural legacy and the global exposure. It was also the first time both the Olympics and Paralympics were integrated into the same Organising Committee.
“The Organising Committee for the Barcelona 1992 Games, with the backing of city and Catalan authorities, and the ONCE Foundation, made the Paralympics a stunning success, from which the Paralympic Movement could build. Few would argue that Barcelona 1992 had more impact on the Paralympic Movement than any Games before or after.”
They attracted 3,001 athletes from 83 countries who competed in 431 medal events across 15 sports. The Opening Ceremony was attended by 65,000 spectators including Queen Sofia of Spain and Mayor Pasqual Maragall, who was highly supportive of the Games.
More than 1.5 million spectators attended 12 days of Para sport in Barcelona, while millions more watched on television. The USA topped the medals standings, helped by visually impaired swimmer and Paralympic Hall of Fame inductee Trischa Zorn who won 10 gold and two silver medals. Athletes also broke 279 world records.