The Most Popular Paralympic Sport: A Ranking of the Top Choices

Choose the sport you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Feb 22, 2024 06:24
Step right up and make your voice heard in this exciting ranking of the most popular Paralympic sports! At StrawPoll, we're hosting a thrilling race where thousands of fans are casting their votes on their favorite heart-pumping, adrenaline-fueled Paralympic events. But it doesn't end there – you can even suggest a missing option to keep the competition fierce. Don't miss your chance to champion your top pick and discover which Paralympic sport takes the gold! Join the action, be a part of the conversation, and let's celebrate the incredible talent and determination of these awe-inspiring athletes. Cast your vote now and let the games begin!

What Is the Most Popular Paralympic Sport?

  1. 1
    Wheelchair basketball
    Pierre-Selim · CC BY-SA 3.0
    It is one of the most popular Paralympic sports due to its fast-paced and competitive nature. It is played on a standard basketball court with modified rules and equipment.
    Wheelchair basketball is a team sport specifically designed for athletes with physical disabilities. It is played by individuals who use wheelchairs due to lower limb impairments, such as amputations, spinal cord injuries, or cerebral palsy. The game follows the same basic rules as traditional basketball, with a few modifications to accommodate wheelchair use and ensure fair competition. The objective is to score points by shooting the ball into the opponent's basket while preventing them from doing the same.
    • Number of Players: 5 players per team
    • Wheelchair Types: Players must use sports wheelchairs
    • Court Size: 28 meters in length, 15 meters in width
    • Basket Height: 3.05 meters
    • Ball Size: Size 7 (circumference between 75-78 cm)
  2. 2
    It consists of various track and field events that are adapted for athletes with physical disabilities. It includes events such as sprinting, long jump, shot put, and wheelchair racing.
    Para athletics, also known as track and field for athletes with disabilities, is a Paralympic sport designed for individuals with physical or visual impairments. It involves a variety of track and field events modified to accommodate different disabilities.
    • Event Categories: There are different event categories based on disability types such as T (track), F (field) and P (parallel).
    • Disability Types: Includes athletes with visual impairments, amputations, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, and other physical impairments.
    • Track Events: Includes sprints, middle-distance and long-distance races, hurdles, relays, and marathons.
    • Field Events: Includes long jump, high jump, triple jump, shot put, discus throw, javelin throw, and club throw.
    • Assistive Devices: Athletes may use prosthetics, wheelchairs, guide runners, and assistive throwing devices as allowed based on their disability.
  3. 3
    Wheelchair rugby
    江戸村のとくぞう · CC BY-SA 4.0
    Also known as murderball, it is a full-contact sport that is played by athletes with tetraplegia. It is a highly physical and intense game that requires speed, strength, and strategy.
    Wheelchair rugby, also known as murderball, is a fast-paced team sport played by individuals with physical disabilities. It was created in Canada in the late 1970s by a group of athletes looking for an alternative to wheelchair basketball with more physical contact. The sport combines elements from basketball, ice hockey, and handball, with players using specially designed wheelchairs that are reinforced to withstand collisions.
    • Number of players: Two teams, each consisting of four players on the court at a time.
    • Wheelchair type: Players use custom-made wheelchairs that are designed for maximum stability and durability.
    • Classification: Players are classified based on their functional ability, and teams must have a combined classification point limit on the court at all times.
    • Court dimensions: The court is similar in size to a basketball court, measuring 28 meters long and 15 meters wide.
    • Ball: The sport is played with a volleyball, which must be passed or carried across the opposing team's goal line to score.
  4. 4

    Sitting volleyball

    Harry Huhn
    It is a Paralympic sport that is similar to traditional volleyball but played by athletes with physical disabilities. The court is smaller, and the net is lower, making it more accessible for players with mobility impairments.
    Sitting volleyball is a Paralympic sport designed for individuals with physical disabilities. It is a modified version of traditional volleyball, adapted to be played while sitting on the ground. The sport promotes inclusivity and allows athletes with lower limb impairments to participate on an equal footing with their able-bodied peers.
    • Court Size: 10m x 6m
    • Net Height: 1.15m for men, 1.05m for women
    • Number of Players: 6 per team
    • Ball Type: Regulation-size volleyball
    • Playing Time: Best of 5 sets, each set played to 25 points (rally scoring)
  5. 5
    Para swimming
    Sunaryo Haryo Bayu · CC BY-SA 4.0
    It consists of various swimming events that are adapted for athletes with physical disabilities. It includes events such as freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly.
  6. 6
    It is a strength sport that involves lifting as much weight as possible in three attempts. Athletes with physical disabilities compete in various weight categories and lift weights that are adapted to their abilities.
    Para powerlifting is a Paralympic sport that involves individuals with physical disabilities competing to lift the heaviest weight possible in the bench press. It requires immense strength and technique to excel in this sport. The athlete lies flat on a bench and must lower the barbell to the chest, hold it motionless, and then press it back up until the arms are fully extended. It is a thrilling and intense sport that showcases the strength and determination of para-athletes.
    • Events: Para powerlifting events include both men's and women's competitions, with various weight categories.
    • Classification: Para powerlifting has various classification categories based on disability types, ensuring fair competition.
    • Weight categories: Athletes compete in different weight categories, allowing for fair comparisons within their respective classes.
    • Equipment: The sport requires the use of a specialized bench press setup and a barbell with weight plates.
    • Eligibility: Athletes must have a physical impairment that meets the sport's classification criteria.
  7. 7
    It is a Paralympic sport that is played by athletes with visual impairments. It is a team sport that involves throwing a ball with bells inside it into the opponent's goal.
    Goalball is a unique Paralympic sport that was specifically designed for visually impaired athletes. It is a team sport where two teams of three players each compete against each other. The objective of the game is to roll a ball with bells embedded in it into the opponent's goal, while the defending team uses their bodies to block it. The game is played indoors on a court with tactile markings to help players orient themselves.
    • Equipment: Goalball, which is a specially designed ball with bells inside
    • Court Dimensions: 18 meters long by 9 meters wide
    • Team Size: Each team consists of 3 players on the court, and up to 3 substitutes
    • Eye Shades: All players wear opaque eye shades to ensure fairness as some may have varying degrees of visual impairment
    • Silence: Complete silence is maintained during gameplay to enable players to use their hearing to track the ball
  8. 8
    It is a precision ball sport that is played by athletes with physical disabilities. It is similar to lawn bowls and involves rolling or throwing balls as close as possible to a target ball.
    Boccia is a popular Paralympic sport that originated in Italy. It is a precision ball sport designed for athletes with severe physical disabilities. Boccia can be played individually, in pairs, or in teams of three. The objective of the game is to throw or roll colored balls as close as possible to a target ball, called the jack.
    • Measurement of the court: 12.5m x 6m
    • Type of balls used: Slightly larger and softer leather balls
    • Number of balls per player/team: Six
    • Throwing techniques: Players can throw, roll, or kick the balls
    • Classification system: Players are classified into four categories based on their level of functional disability
  9. 9
    Para cycling
    Marcel Kaderli · CC BY-SA 3.0
    It consists of various cycling events that are adapted for athletes with physical disabilities. It includes events such as road racing, time trials, and track cycling.
    Para cycling, also known as adaptive cycling, is a Paralympic sport that involves cycling for athletes with physical disabilities. It provides opportunities for individuals with various impairments to compete in a range of cycling events. The sport aims to promote inclusivity, physical activity, and competitive spirit among athletes with disabilities.
    • Classification: Athletes are classified based on their impairment to ensure fair competition. There are various categories, including visual impairment, amputations, neurological disorders, and more.
    • Events: Para cycling includes road races, time trials, track events, and hand cycling events.
    • Bicycles: Adaptive bicycles, such as handcycles, tricycles, tandem bicycles, and bicycles with modifications for individual impairments, are used in para cycling.
    • Race distances: Para cycling events can range from short sprints to long-distance races, depending on the category and event type.
    • Terrain: Para cycling can take place on various terrains, including roads, velodromes, and off-road tracks.
  10. 10

    Wheelchair tennis

    Jeff Minnenbraker
    It is a Paralympic sport that is played by athletes with physical disabilities. It is played on a standard tennis court with modified rules and equipment, including a wheelchair.
    Wheelchair tennis is a variation of tennis adapted for wheelchair users. It allows individuals with physical disabilities to compete on an equal playing field. The game follows the same rules and scoring system as traditional tennis, with players using specially designed sports wheelchairs.
    • Court: Same dimensions as a standard tennis court
    • Wheelchair: Specially designed sports wheelchairs
    • Ball: Similar to traditional tennis balls, but larger and with slightly less pressure
    • Racket: Adapted rackets with longer handles
    • Serve: Must be hit after the ball bounces once on the court

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Ranking factors for popular sport

  1. Number of participants
    The number of athletes actively participating in the sport worldwide can be used to gauge its popularity. A higher number of participants can indicate a more popular sport.
  2. Audience engagement
    The level of interest from spectators, as measured by the number of spectators attending events, television viewership numbers, and social media following.
  3. Media coverage
    The amount and quality of media coverage a sport receives, including articles, news reports, and broadcast rights deals, can be an indicator of its popularity.
  4. Availability and accessibility
    How widespread the sport is and how easy it is for disabled athletes to participate, including affordability, availability of facilities, and equipment.
  5. Competitive level
    The number of countries with athletes competing in a specific sport and the competitiveness of events, including world championships and Paralympic Games, can influence its popularity.
  6. Diversity and inclusion
    The extent to which the sport is inclusive, catering to various disability categories and promoting gender equality.
  7. Sponsorship and funding
    Sports with more sponsorship deals and funding from governments or private organizations can be considered more popular as these resources allow for growth, better training, and more significant events.
  8. Historical significance and legacy
    The history and tradition associated with specific sports can contribute to their popularity. Events with long-standing legacies may have a more substantial following and be considered more popular.
  9. Athlete success and recognition
    Sports that have well-known or successful athletes can be more popular, as these athletes represent the sport and inspire others to participate.
  10. Technological advancements
    Sports that embrace and adapt to new technologies, making it more accessible or engaging for athletes and spectators, can increase in popularity.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular Paralympic sport. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or Game is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 225 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each Game once every 24 hours. The rank of each Game is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.


More information on most popular paralympic sport

The Paralympic Games, held every four years, showcase the incredible athleticism and spirit of athletes with disabilities from around the world. Paralympic sports are divided into six categories, depending on the type and severity of the disability: wheelchair, amputee, cerebral palsy, visually impaired, intellectual disability, and others. One of the most popular Paralympic sports is wheelchair basketball, which was introduced at the first Paralympic Games in 1960. It is a fast-paced and highly competitive sport, where two teams of five players each try to score points by shooting the ball through a high hoop. Other popular Paralympic sports include athletics, swimming, and cycling. Paralympic sports have come a long way since their inception, with increasing recognition and support from governments, sponsors, and fans. Today, the Paralympic Games are a celebration of diversity, inclusion, and excellence, and provide a platform for athletes with disabilities to showcase their talents and inspire others.

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