Wheelchair is the sixth (alphabetically) of the six major disability categories at the Paralympic Games.

In order to be eligible to compete in this category an athlete must generally have at least a 10% loss of function of their lower limbs.  Some of the more common conditions which may result in individuals being eligible include: traumatic paraplegia and quadriplegia, spina bifida, poliomyelitis, amputees, cerebral palsy and all non ambulant les autres athletes.

In the Paralympics, Wheelchair is abbreviated to WC.

The Paralympic sports participated in by Wheelchair athletes are:


Archery is open to athletes with a physical disability.

Classification is broken up into three classes:

W1 -  Spinal Cord and Cerebral Palsy athletes with impairment in all four limbs

W2 -  Wheelchair users with full arm function

Standing -  Amputee, Les Autres and Cerebral Palsy standing athletes. Some athletes in the standing group will sit on a high stool for support but will still have their feet touching the ground.


Athletics is open to all disability groups and uses a functional classification system.

A brief classification guide is as follows: (prefixing F for field athletes or T for track athletes)

F or T 11-13 are Visually Impaired

F or T 20 are Learning Difficulty

F or T 31-38 are Cerebral Palsy

F or T 41- 46 Amputee and Les Autres

T 51- 54 Wheelchair track athletes

F51- 58 Wheelchair field athletes


Boccia is open to athletes with Cerebral Palsy who compete from a wheelchair.

Classification is split into four groups:

BC1 - Athletes are either throwers or foot players (with Cerebral Palsy).  Athletes may compete with an assistant

BC2 - For throwing players (with Cerebral Palsy).  Players may not have an assistant

BC3 - Athletes (with severe disability) who use an assistive device and may be assisted by a person, but this assistant must keep their back to the court.

BC4 - For throwing players. Players may not have an assistant (Non Cerebral Palsy).


Powerlifting is open to athletes with a physical disability.

Classification is by weight category as in able bodied powerlifting competition.


Sailing is open to Amputee, Cerebral Palsy, Visually Impaired, Wheelchair and Les Autres athletes.

Classification for the Sonar is based on a functional points system with a minimum of 1 point for severely disabled athletes rising by scale to a high of 7 points for less disabled athletes. Each crew of three is allowed a maximum of 14 points between them.

The two-person Skud includes one severely disabled sailor, and one person with minimal disability. At least one of the crew must be female.

The singled handed 2.4m can be crewed regardless of points but the sailor must have at least a minimum level of disability. The characteristics of the boat allow the sailors to compete on equal terms with able bodied sailors.

Table Tennis

Table tennis is open to athletes with a physical or Learning Difficulty spread over 11 classes.

Classes 1 to 5 encompass athletes competing from a Wheelchair with class 1 being the most severely disabled and class 5 the least disabled.

Classes 6 to 10 comprise ambulant athletes with class 6 the most severely disabled and class 10 the least.

Class 11 is for athletes with a Learning Difficulty.


Volleyball is open to athletes with a physical disability and has both a sitting and standing event.

In sitting volleyball the court is smaller than standard and has a lower net.

Standing volleyball uses a full sized court and normal height net.

In the sitting games the only classification is the minimal disability ruling; athletes may compete if they have a disability that prevents them from competing on equal terms with able bodied athletes.

Wheelchair Basketball

Basketball is open to wheelchair athletes.

Wheelchair athletes are classified according to their physical ability and are given a points rating between 1 - 4.5.  One pointers being the most severely disabled and 4.5 the least disabled.  A team on court comprises five players and may not exceed a total of 14 points at any given time. 

Wheelchair Fencing

Fencing is open to wheelchair athletes.

There are only three classes:

Class A incorporates those athletes with good balance and recovery and full trunk movement;

Class B those with poor balance and recovery but full use of one or both upper limbs;

Class C athletes with severe physical impairment in all four limbs. 

Wheelchair Rugby

Athletes are classified on a points system similar to wheelchair basketball, with the most severely disabled athlete being graded 0.5 points rising to 3.5 points for the physically more able.  Each team has four players and is allowed a maximum of 8 points on court at any one time.