Alternatively known as the Games of the Paralympian, Paralympics is a periodical series of international multi-sport events that let differently-abled athletes showcase their talents and skills to the world. Comparable to the Olympics, the Paralympic Games have Winter Games and Summer Games, alternately happening biennially. And if you’re a sports bettor wondering if Paralympics betting is possible, the answer is—yes!
Paralympic athletes play in six different disability groups—amputee, intellectual disability, visual impairment, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, and Les Autres, which covers dwarfism, multiple sclerosis, and congenital deformities of the limbs.
Over the years, Paralympic Games have been significantly growing in size and diversity. Its introduction in 1960 hosted 400 athletes from 23 nations competing in eight sports. Now six decades later, at the Tokyo 2020, 4,403 athletes (1,853 female and 2,550 male) are seen in action, setting the record for most players at the Paralympics. Find out more about Paralympic Games and Paralympics betting below.
Understanding Paralympics Betting
Although the first summer Paralympics dates as far back as 1960, it wasn’t appealing to the betting public until the 2012 London Paralympics. According to sports betting giant William Hill, their turnover at the 2016 Paralympics was only roughly 7.5% of the Olympics that year. That said, despite Paralympics betting opportunities being available, you’re unlikely to find as many bookies as you might for the Olympic Games.
Paralympics betting markets are akin to those that bookmakers offer at the Olympics. You can place each-way or win-only bets on a variety of sports. In some Paralympic Games, you can wager before the action begins or wait for the finals. For events that don’t have heat, you need to place your wagers before their commencement.
As with other sporting events, Paralympics betting has tons of possibilities. Some bookies let you wager on whether a player will break a Paralympic record or even set a new world record. However, it is worth noting that despite being one of the most highly-anticipated sporting events, Olympics betting is small. And Paralympics betting is even smaller.
How Paralympics Betting Works
Paralympics betting is no different from other forms of sports betting. You can do it online and at the comfort of your home. All you need is a reliable internet connection and a bank account.
Before you can bet on Paralympic Games, you must first create an account with a trustworthy sports betting site. Signing up entitles you to some perks, including welcome bonuses from your bookmaker. Offers vary from site to site, but they usually come in the form of free bets. You can claim the bonus offers after making your first deposit into your sports betting account.
There’s no shortage of real money Paralympic Games bets you can place. It all boils down to your bookie and what they’re willing to take wagers on and provide Paralympics betting odds for.
Classifications of Paralympic Games
When talking about Paralympic athletes and sports, one word you’ll often hear is “classifications.” At the Olympics, organizers categorize sporting events by gender and weight class. Meanwhile, Paralympics organizers group like-with-like athletes to create fairness in competition.
Paralympics classification covers a range of visual, physical, and intellectual impairments. The list of eligible impairments include:
- Short stature
- Limb deficiency
- Muscle weakness
- Vision impairment
- Leg length difference
- Intellectual impairment
- Hypertonia (muscle tension)
- Athetosis (involuntary movements)
- Ataxia (uncoordinated movements)
- Impaired passive range of movement
Organizers assign classifications to the above eligible impairments, followed by numerical groupings to cater to varying levels of functional ability. They consider the athlete’s ability to maneuver a wheelchair, hold and swing a tennis racket, see the sailing course, and a whole host of other essential skills. Paralympics sporting events include:
- Football (Five-a-side)
- Sitting Volleyball
- Table Tennis
- Wheelchair Rugby
- Wheelchair Tennis
- Wheelchair Fencing
- Wheelchair Basketball
What Is the Most Popular Paralympic Sport?
Played by athletes who can’t run, jump, or pivot, Wheelchair Basketball is arguably the most popular Paralympic sport worldwide. Per the International Wheelchair Basketball Foundation (IWBF), around 100,000 individuals are now playing Wheelchair Basketball across the globe.
Like regular basketball, each team has 12 players with only five in action on court at any point in time. Dimension of the court, backboard, and hoop are also the same. The goal is to score as many baskets for each quarter. Ballers use lightweight and compact wheelchairs that often consist of one or two smaller wheels at the front.
Double dribble is not a violation in Wheelchair Basketball. Players can dribble again after picking up one’s dribble. But like able-bodied basketball, traveling is a violation. They have to bounce or throw after every two touches on their wheelchair. The Scoring system is also similar to regular basketball:
- One point for every free throw
- Two points for every field goal
- Three points for field goals from behind the arc
In Wheelchair Basketball, the wheelchair is considered an extension of the player’s body. If a player or their wheelchair touches their opponent, that counts as foul.
Has Anyone Cheated in the Paralympics?
Among the reasons why some bookies shy away from Paralympics betting is because there have been cases of cheating. That’s a lame excuse considering that cheats are no longer possible in most sports at one level or another.
The inarguably most infamous example of Paralympic cheating came at the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games. According to reports, none of the 12 Spanish basketball team players has mental impairment as represented. Organizers have also caught steroid users during the 2000 and 2008 Paralympics. The main offenders are skiers and weightlifters.
Other scandal causes include gene doping and boosting of blood pressure. The International Paralympic Committee has decided to ban Russian Paralympians from the Rio 2016 Summer Paralympics due to the doping scandal.
Paralympics Vs. Special Olympics
The Paralympic Games and Special Olympics are two independent International Olympic Committee-recognized organizations. Run by international non-profit organizations, they both focus on sport for differently-abled athletes. The difference between Paralympics and Special Olympics lies in the following areas:
- Organizational structure
- Disability classifications of athletes
- Criteria and philosophy under which athletes participate
Special Olympics is open to intellectually impaired athletes (at least eight years old) of all ability levels. They can train and compete in more than 30 Olympic-style sports. To qualify for the Special Olympics, athletes should possess functional defects in adaptive skills and general learning. That includes intellectual disability, development disability, or cognitive delay.
On the other hand, the Paralympics has six disability categories for athletes: amputee, spinal injuries, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, visually impaired, and Les Autres. To be eligible in the Paralympics, athletes have to meet specific criteria and qualifying standards.
Is Paralympics Betting Worth It?
Paralympics betting is not the easiest way to profit from gambling. Bookies offer more markets for the Olympics, but sports bettors still struggle to make regular profits on those events.
One of the main reasons bookmakers don’t take many Paralympic bets is that the best athletes are not as famous as their Olympic counterparts. So despite the success of the Paralympic Games, Paralympics betting interest remains underwhelming.
Paralympics betting is a great way to show your support and interest in these athletes. But if you’re goal is to make money, you’re looking at the wrong place. Paralympic Games don’t get nearly enough media exposure. As a result, Paralympics betting is not a hit.
If you’re seriously considering Paralympics betting, it’s advisable to make it part of your larger betting strategy. Do it in addition to regularly wagering on sports and betting markets. There are way more profitable sport betting options out there, including horse racing, football, golf, cricket, basketball, and ice hockey.