Sport Week: History of goalball

The sport was introduced at Toronto 1976 with a men’s event, whilst women made their debut at New York 1984. 05 May 2016
Goalball China X Iran - London 2012

China take on Iran in goalball at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

ⒸGetty Images
By Rosanna Haroutounian | For the IPC

Goalball for male athletes was first played at the Paralympics as a demonstration sport in Heidelberg, Germany, in 1972.

In 1976, it was played for medals for the first time at the Toronto Paralympic Games and has been contested at every edition since. Women’s goalball made its Paralympic debut at New York 1984.

In Toronto, eight men’s goalball teams competed. Today, 10 men's and 10 women's teams are eligible to compete at the Paralympics.

Austria won the first gold in 1976, the only time the European country has won a medal in the sport. Since then, Finland, Denmark and the USA have dominated the Paralympic scene.

Egypt is the only African team to have won Paralympic medals in goalball – one silver and two bronze in the men’s event.

China’s men made their Paralympic debut in Beijing 2008, winning the gold. The team eliminated favourites Finland and the USA, before beating Lithuania in the final game.

In the women’s competition, the hosts sealed silver after being defeated by the USA.

The USA, Canada and Denmark have won the most medals among women – five, five and four, respectively.

At London 2012, Finland men’s team won the gold for the first time in 16 years, following victory over Brazil, who in winning silver became the first South American team to win a Paralympic medal in the sport.

Japan women’s team topped the podium for the first time in their history at London 2012.

Editor’s note: Each sport on the Rio 2016 Paralympic programme will have a dedicated week of featured content published on Every week a new sport will be featured and the series will run until September’s Games, helping the public understand more about the 22 sports being contested in Rio.


Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs).

The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.

Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.