Ten years ago, on 5 March 1998, the first Paralympic Winter Games officially started outside Europe in Nagano, Japan. His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince of Japan officiated at the Opening Ceremony.
During ten days of competition, a total of 34 events took place across the four sports, including Alpine Skiing, Ice Sledge Hockey, Ice Sledge Racing and Nordic Skiing. Some 1,146 participants from 32 countries were at the Nagano Games, including 571 athletes and 575 officials. Norway repeated its success at the 1994 Games by topping the medal table with 18 golds. Germany was close behind with 14 gold medals, followed by the USA with 13 gold medals.
The Nagano Games clearly demonstrated rising media and public interest in Paralympic Winter sport. A total of 151,376 spectators were recorded during the Games. A total of 1,468 media representatives (press, cameramen and broadcasters) covered the Games. The official Games website recorded a total of 7.7 million hits during the course of the Games, with 1 million hits coming in on the first and second days of competition.
Salt Lake City 2002
On 7 March 2002, Rice-Eccles Stadium was filled with more than 40,000 spectators when the Salt Lake 2002 Paralympic Winter Games officially started. The Paralympic Village was home to 416 athletes from 36 countries. For Andorra, Chile, the People’s Republic of China, Croatia, Greece and Hungary, it was their debut at the Paralympic Winter Games. The German team led the medal tally with a total of 17 gold, 1 silver and 15 bronze medals, followed by the team from the United States, which won 10 gold, 22 silver and 11 bronze medals.
The sport programme consisted of three sports and four disciplines: Alpine Skiing, Ice Sledge Hockey and Nordic Skiing (Cross-Country and Biathlon). A total of 211,790 tickets were sold. A total of 836 accredited media representatives reported from the Salt Lake Games for written press, photography, non-rightsholding broadcasters and more than 30 broadcasters. After months of negotiations, a live, worldwide television signal of all sports was secured.
Just two years ago, from 11 to 19 March 2006, a total of 474 athletes, including 99 women competed in four sports in 58 medal events at the Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games. Alpine Skiing was held on the slopes of Sestriere Borgata, Ice Sledge Hockey in the central Torino Esposizioni, the Nordic Skiing events were held in Pragelato. Wheelchair Curling made its Paralympic debut in front of packed crowds in Pinerolo. Mexico and Mongolia were welcomed to their first Winter Paralympics, bringing the total number of participating countries to 39. The medal tally was topped by Russia with 13 gold medals, followed by Germany with eight golds and Ukraine, France and USA joint with seven gold medals each. Ukraine saw an exciting development, moving from 18th place at the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Paralympics to third in Torino.
A total of 162,974 tickets were sold during the Games. Several competitions, including the finals of the Ice Sledge Hockey and Wheelchair Curling as well as the Opening Ceremony, were sold out. A new record was set in the area of media representatives covering the Games. 1,037 written press, photographers, rights holding broadcasters and non-rightsholding broadcasters were present. The Host Broadcaster, International Sports Broadcasting (ISB) provided more than 130 hours of live coverage and had 303 staff on site. A number of EBU broadcasters extended their coverage with Internet broadband streaming and mobile technology.
At the Torino 2006 Winter Paralympics, the IPC also launched its Internet television channel www.paralympicsport.tv. The channel saw approximately 40,000 unique viewers from 105 countries, watching an average of four and a half hours. Most viewers came from the USA, Italy, Canada, Germany and Japan but the channel drew a 5% increase in new viewers every day. Highlights of the Opening Ceremony can be seen on ParalympicSport.TV.