The Olympic Games for paraplegic athletes began in Toronto on Wednesday amid controversy because of the participation of a South African team.
SV Flags of competing nations
SV People outside Etobicoke Centennial Park Arena
SV Officials talking
SV Blind Israeli athlete running and passing official with loud hailer to indicate distance
SV Spectators watching
SV Athletes in wheel chairs from Korea
SV Two black South Africans in wheel chairs
SV Blind Israeli shotputter in action
MV Blind Israeli athlete with guide dog
SV Blind high jumper in action
SV Athletes in wheelchair from Spain
SV Athletes boarding coach
Annual international games for the paralysed originated at Stoke Mandeville in England where they were organised by Sir Ludwig Guttman, knighted for his work in the medical treatment of paraplegia and in the development of sport for the disabled. Now they are held every fourth year in the country hosting the regular Olympics.
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Background: The Olympic Games for paraplegic athletes began in Toronto on Wednesday amid controversy because of the participation of a South African team.
SYNOPSIS: More than 50 countries were expected to take part but so far, Jamaica, Yugoslavia and Kenya have withdrawn, apparently over the South Africans. And their participation led the Canadian government to refuse a 500,000 U.S. dollar grant it had promised for the Games.
Despite the political wrangles, the athletes held practice sessions on Tuesday. The Olympiad is being staged at the 260 acre Centennial Park and this year it's being expanded to include the blind and amputee as well as wheelchair athletes. Basically the events are similar to those seen at the Montreal Olympic games, but events vary by type of disability.
Three black athletes are included in the South African team but their presence has been called a "sham and a smokescreen for racial politics" by Canadian groups opposed to South Africa's apartheid policies.
Finance is hampering the Olympic and organisers need about 300,000 dollars to cover costs. After the Canadian government withdrew its support, a fund-raising campaign was launched but it raised only 200,000 dollars. Officials say the Games would not have been possible without the support of 3,000 volunteers from throughout the world who are helping in Toronto.