Background to the Games

Although Calgary had made an unofficial declaration of interest in hosting the 1988 Winter Paralympic Games, which was reported to the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) in January 1984 and was subsequently accepted along with their bid for the 1988 Winter Olympics, they later cancelled the offer to host the Paralympics saying they were unable to provide enough officials.

After significant discussion, the organisers of the 1984 Innsbruck Games succeeded in persuading the Austrian authorities to host the Games a second time. These were the last Winter Games to be held in a separate venue to the Winter Olympic Games. The Austrian state provided a subsidy of 15 million schillings which was increased by generous local sponsorship.

The ICC asked the 4th World Winter Games Organising Committee to change the name to the ‘Winter Paralympics 1988’. This was unpopular as the Austrian organisers wanted to keep the link to the Games of 1984 by retaining the logo, name and people involved in running the event and the name remained as the '4th Weltwinterspiele für Körperbehinderte' which can be translated as 'Winter Games for the Disabled', or, literally, 'World Winter Games for the Physically Challenged'.

Although Calgary didn't host these Paralympics, the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics did include men’s and women’s demonstration events in modified giant slalom for above the knee amputees and 5km cross-country for the blind.

As in 1984, the Austrian Postal and Telegraph Administration released a commemorative stamp with a surcharge to contribute to funding the Games.

Innsbruck 1988 Paralympic Winter Games commemorative stamp

Commemorative postage stamp ©Österreichische Post 

The build-up to the Games

Logo and Poster

The 1988 logo was the same as the logo in 1984, at its centre is a depiction of the 'Goldenes Dachl' (Golden roof), one of Innsbruck’s most famous landscapes. There are then Olympic rings placed above the golden roof and 5 broken rings underneath to symbolise the disability of the para athletes that took part in the games. 

Changes to Events

Biathlon was introduced for athletes with a physical impairment.

Venues

Owing to bad weather and poor snow conditions, The Nordic events had to be moved from Natters, about 10km from Innsbruck, to Seefeld, about 26km from Innsbruck, because of poor snow conditions and bad weather.  

Alpine events were held in Mutters, but, for better conditions, had to be above 1500 metres.

The opening ceremony

The opening ceremony of the 1988 Winter Paralympic Games took place in the Innsbruck ice stadium and was opened by Dr Kurt Waldheim, President of Austria.

The Paralympic flame was then lit by Josef Meusberger and Brigitte Raijchi, two Alpine skiers from Austria.

During the Games

Queen Silvia of Sweden attended the games which continued the tradition of a royal support that started with King Carl Gustaf being a patron at the Ornskoldsvik Paralympic games in 1976.

Queen Silvia of Sweden attended the 1988 Innsbruck Paralympic Winter Games

©Claus Kempe

Medal statistics

The Great Britain team did not win any medals at the 1988 Innsbruck Winter Games.

Prominent British Paralympic athletes

Cross country skiing

  • Peter Young - A piano tuner, Peter only started skiing in 1974 at the age of 18 when he went to Norway for a party, he represented Great Britain at every Winter Paralympics from Örnsköldsvik in 1976 to Nagano in 1998. In 1999 the Council of the Ski Club of Great Britain awarded him the Pery Medal for an outstanding contribution to snowsports, the commendation can be read here
    Peter also competed in the Men's 1500 m B1 at the New York/Stoke Mandeville Summer Paralympic Games in 1984.

Alpine skiing

  • Philip Saunders – Having competed in four ice sledge speed skating events at the Innsbruck 1984 Games, in 1988 Philip competed in the Alpine skiing Men's Giant Slalom LW10 and Men's Slalom LW10. He went on to join the Para Ice Hockey team for the Lillehammer 1994 and Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games.
  • William Levick – Having competed in four ice sledge speed skating events at the Innsbruck 1984 Games, in 1988 William competed in the same events along with the Alpine skiing Men's Giant Slalom LW10 and Men's Slalom LW10. He went on to join the Para Ice Hockey team for the Lillehammer 1994 Paralympic Games.

References

  • Steve Bailey, Athlete First: A History of the Paralympic Movement
  • https://ipfs.io/ipfs/QmXoypizjW3WknFiJnKLwHCnL72vedxjQkDDP1mXWo6uco/wiki/Australia_at_the_1988_Winter_Paralympics.html
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1988_Winter_Paralympics
  • https://www.paralympic.org/innsbruck-1988
  • https://ipfs.io/ipfs/QmXoypizjW3WknFiJnKLwHCnL72vedxjQkDDP1mXWo6uco/wiki/Australia_at_the_1988_Winter_Paralympics.html
  • https://www.paralympic.org/sdms4/hira/web