The annual Olympic Day, first held in 1948 to celebrate the rebirth of the Olympic Games dating to June 23, 1894, is now known in the U.S. by a new name — Olympic and Paralympic Day.
It’s the latest move toward inclusion by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. The USOPC changed its name last June to include the Paralympic movement.
“The decision to change the organization’s name represents a continuation of our long-standing commitment to create an inclusive environment for Team USA athletes,” USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said at the time. “Paralympic athletes are integral to the makeup of Team USA, and our mission to inspire current and future generations of Americans. The new name represents a renewed commitment to that mission and the ideals that we seek to advance, both here at home and throughout the worldwide Olympic and Paralympic movements.”
The Olympics and the Paralympics are separate entities. There is an International Olympic Committee and an International Paralympic Committee. But both Games intersected in many ways since 1960, when Rome became the first city to host both the Olympics and Paralympics in the same year.
Start with the word “Paralympic,” derived from the Greek preposition “para” (beside or alongside) and the word “Olympic.”
Since 1992, every Olympic host city also held the Paralympic Games. In most cases, the same venues hosted Olympic and Paralympic events, the most visible difference often the Paralympic Agitos logo in place of the Olympic rings.
A total of 34 athletes competed in both the Olympics and the Paralympics. That includes one American, Marla Runyan, who won Paralympic titles in the 100m, 200m, 400m, long jump and pentathlon in classifications for visual impairment before making the 2000 and 2004 Olympic teams in the 1500m.
Brazilian Joaquim Cruz is among those most synonymous with the Olympic and Paralympic movements. Cruz won the 1984 Olympic 800m, then in retirement became a guide runner and coach for the U.S. Paralympic track and field team.
Olympians and Paralympians train together. Most notably, Jessica Long and Michael Phelps for a time were in the same group under Bob Bowman. Long is the second-most decorated U.S. Paralympian in history with 23 medals. Together, Long and Phelps own 51 medals from the Games.
The Tokyo Games will mark the first for which Olympians and Paralympians will receive the same prize money from the USOPC for medals — $37,500 for gold, $22,500 for silver and $15,000 for bronze — increasing Paralympic payouts as much as 400 percent.
NBC’s TV coverage of the Paralympics nearly doubled for the Winter Games from 2014 to 2018. In all, NBC aired 250 hours across TV and digital platforms from PyeongChang.
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