By the late 1950s Guttmann, the Italian Istituto Nazionale per l'Assicurazione contro gli Infortuni sul Lavoro (INAIL) and a spinal unit in Rome were already discussing the possibility of holding the 1960 Stoke Mandeville International Games outside Britain for the first time. As the Olympic Games were being held in Rome that year Guttmann saw no reason why the International Games couldn't be held there too. And the Italians supported him.
'"The action taken by the Stoke Mandeville Games Committee to hold the Games from time to time outside England is marvellous... It has made many people talk about, and follow up news of the Games - especially those paraplegics all over the world who are very depressed and of low morale"'Special Edition of The Cord, after the 1960 Games
The XVII Olympic Games ended on September 11, 1960 and just one week later, September 18, 400 disabled athletes, representing 21 nations assembled for the first overseas Stoke Mandeville Games for those with spinal cord injuries.
Other impairment classes, such as those for athletes who were blind and visually impaired (BVI), amputees and had cerebral palsy were not added for many years.
There were glitches, of course, but the first overseas Games were a great success, not just for the organisers and athletes, but for the message of hope and possibility they sent to the disabled community around the world.
‘"The action taken by the Stoke Mandeville Games Committee to hold the Games from time to time outside England is marvellous," said Nizar Bissat of Lebanon. "It has made many people talk about, and follow up news of the Games - especially those paraplegics all over the world who are very depressed and of low morale"’ (Special Edition of The Cord, after the 1960 Games).
In Rome 1960, athletes shared the same city and accommodation as their Olympic counterparts. They came from every continent in the world and took part in nine events. Britain won 21 gold medals, 15 silver and 18 bronze. Rome would later become known as the first Paralympic Games.
A precedent had been set.
Sports of the first Paralympiad/Rome 1960
- Wheelchair Basketball
- Wheelchair Fencing
- Athletics (Javelin, Precision Javelin, Putting the Shot, Throwing the Club)
- Table Tennis
Nations at the first Paralympiad/Rome 1960
- Great Britain
- The Netherlands
- South Rhodesia