Author: Schroeder Otto, Hamburg, Germany

May 28, 2014

1. Introduction

In his writings, M. Tomich considers a sporting event as a contest (competition) of the people in the form of a game in order to clarify the benefits of physical training in the development of certain aspects of consciousness (Tomich, 2002).

Sports competition is a «leading, most prominent and visible form of sport functioning in society. Therefore, conducting a sports competitions and mass physical culture and sports activities is the main sports organizations activity» (Nizyaeva, Podlivaeva, 1998; Kuzin, Kutepov, 1994; Latushkina, 2003; Pereverzin, 2006; Pochinkin, 2010; Pons, Richelieu, 2005; Schimmel, Clark, Irwin, Lachowetz, 2007; Seguin, Pegoraro, O’Reilly, Harrington, 2008; Stepanova, 2007; Stroke, 2005. This statement is a complete true for the sphere of adaptive sports.

Mass physical culture and sports competitions for people with disabilities include:

- competition for children with disabilities and their families, ski and water trips;

- sports events, such as the City Day, Youth Day, anniversary of a social organization for disabled people, «Russian Winter» and so on;

- mass competitions in individual sports (for all nozological groups), races on the wheelchairs (for athletes with problems of the musculoskeletal system), running with the leader and cross-country skiing with a leader (for athletes with eyesight problems);

- competitions held as part of All-Russian, international and regional events such as the Disabled People Day, the International Day of the Deaf, the International Day of the Blind, etc;

- complex sports competitions, festivals and Para-sports competitions: «Russian President Football Cup among the disabled», «Regional Para-sports competition». «Central Federal Region Para-sports competition», Sports Festival of the motor impaired (for example, Ivanovo region), fitness festivals, etc.

I.I. Pereverzin notes that «sports competition is a race game activity the participants of which, considering their age, sex and preparedness, have equal opportunities to win in the exercises available to them». This definition, to our mind, can be also applied to the adaptive sports, however, organizing the sports competition for disabled people one must take into account not only the age and the sex of the athletes, but also their functionality. This functional classification is «primarily based on the athlete’s ability that allows him or her to compete in a specific sports discipline, and then on medical data» (Sladkova, 2011); (Tsarik, 2003); (Tsarik, 2011).

Every year in Russia competitions, tournaments, games for people with various disabilities are held on different (from municipal to the All-Russian) levels. Such competitions are socially oriented, representing for disabled people the «victory over their own physical ailments, demonstration of their desire to integrate into modern society» (Kanterovsky, 2010); (Nizyaeva, Podlivaeva, 1998). One of the important problems of social policy of the state and its citizens is to prevent disability, including psychological aspects of disability.

The wide popularity of games and versatile nature of their impacts require special care in the competitions preparation and organization, because they involved not only the indigenous Russian population, but also people with disabilities from minority backgrounds. Especially sharply this question is in Metropolitan areas.

Planning events in adaptive sports is an essential increasing component of mass character of adaptive sports, as well as preparation of athletes with disabilities to the main starts – local and regional Para-Olympics.

The main goals of sports for disabled people are: promotion and development of adaptive sports, promotion of sport and a healthy lifestyle among people with disabilities and exposure of the strongest athletes (sports teams), demonstration of physical, intellectual, emotional and volitional, spiritual and other possibilities of the participants, sports skills growth of disabled athletes, improvement of the life quality, socialization, social and educational integration of disabled people.

The main objective of adaptive sports competitions organizers is to set up conditions for a comfortable stay of the athletes, as on the sports grounds and beyond them (in hotels, restaurants, places of cultural and leisure areas, etc.).

The main structural components of sports competition for disabled people are:

- the subject of the competition (a kind of sport or exercise);

- pedagogically organized competitive activities for disabled athletes and teams;

- the coaches’ work and team officials;

- professional activity of the competition organizers;

- Refereeing (classification of disabled athletes into categories of the disease, the rules, regulations, organization of the competition office, records management, criteria and locating technology rivals, the winners awarding);

- Interaction with sponsors and Maecenas;

- The volunteers work;

- Active spectators and fans.

2. Method

- methods theoretical level: the analysis of literary sources and statistical materials, generalization, analogy method, comparative analysis, modeling;

- methods empirical level: content analysis of regulatory, voluntary, laws and regulations governing the operation of the adaptive sports at the international, regional, national and local scales; teacher observation; study and generalization of the experience sports activities national sports organizations; interviews (conversations, interviews, questionnaires);

- methods of mathematical statistics: the method of averages, (calculations were made using the standard software package Microsoft Excel for Windows).

In the course of our research the list, the meaning and the structure of main disadvantages of the organization and carrying out of the competition for disabled people in the Russian regions have been set.

In order to make the list of disadvantages of organization of sports competition for disabled people, we interviewed the athletes of a «Penguin» sports club for disabled people, Shuya, Ivanovo State University branch, and the members of Fifth Sports Festivals for Disabled People in Ivanovo Region, held on the basis of the named university in April 2010. 147 athletes from eight municipalities of Ivanovo region were interviewed.

To determine the importance and weaknesses of the organization and structure of the competition for disabled people, we developed a questionnaire and interviewed 224 athletes from 18 regions of the Central Federal District (Kursk, Moscow, Lipetsk, Belgorod, Tambov, Kaluga, Voronezh, Kostroma, Tula, Tver, Yaroslavl, Smolensk, Orel, Moscow, Vladimir, Ivanovo, Bryansk and Ryazan regions). The research was held within the bounds of the First Para Sports Competition of Central Federal District that took place in Ivanovo region in September-October 2010.

To identify groups of disadvantages in the organization of competitions for disabled people, we carried out a cluster analysis (using the method of minimum variance, the square Euclidean distance served as a metric).

3. Results

Based on the literature data and our own experience in organizing and carrying out mass sports competitions for disabled people we have characterized the basic types of competitions for disabled people (Table 1).

Table 1 Mass sports competitions for disabled people



of competitions


Sports competitions Held on commonly accepted rules. Athletes involved in adaptive sports schools, teams, sports and recreation groups and clubs for disabled people or on their own, having no contraindications for participation in competitions, are permitted to participate.
Public and promotional competitions Held in the form of campaign actions, demonstration events, competitions, festivals, blitz and open competitions that are open to everyone. The purpose of these competitions can be a form of motivation for disabled people to participate in physical activities and sports
Educational and training competitions Held for those who attend health and fitness clubs for disabled people, or are the members of sports teams, public organizations for the disabled people and sports committees. The purpose of such events is to make lessons more emotional, to encourage the growth of physical preparedness, to increase the training efficiency.

All events organized for disabled people can be categorized by purpose and place in the system of sports training, distribution of athletes by functional classes, methods of determining the winner, scales, etc. (Table 2).

Table 2 The main types of competition in adaptive sportsand their characteristics


Types of competitions

Signs of competition

Essential competitions The most socially important and prestigious, large-scale events, the successful performance of which is to prepare athletes with disabilities. The major events include the Paralympics Games, competing in the «Special Olympics», the European and World Championships and Russian Championship, Regional and Local Para-sports Competitions
Qualifying competitions Competitions aimed at fulfilling the sports standards to assign titles, ranks or for admission to the competitions of major importance.
Team competitions The competitions between the teams, clubs of disabled people when the results of the participants are counted only for a team or a club.
Testing competitions Competitions aimed to determine the athletes’ preparedness for major ones.
Personally-team competitions Competitions, which summarize the performance of individual teams or clubs and personal superiority of all participants.
Personal competitions Competitions, which are played only for the individual championship
Mass competitions Competitions with large number of participants and spectators
Open competitions Competitions with free admission for everyone on condition of medical contraindications for physical activities and sports. Competitions aim is preparing for others, more important competitions
Preparing competitions Competitions aim is preparing for others, more important competitions
Demonstrative competitions Competitions, the main purpose of which is not to identify the winner, but to demonstrate the disabled athletes’ possibilities, the sports advantages, to increase motivation of disabled people to physical activities and sports.
Training competitions Competitions held during the training process and aimed to improve the level of athletes’ preparedness.
Educational competitions Competitions held during lessons on adaptive sports in specialized educational institutions for disabled people.

Organizing and conducting sports competitions for disabled people have a lot of similarities when compared with the organization of competitions among healthy athletes, but there are important differences. Whatever the sports event scale is, the international, all-Russian, regional or held on the local level, it should be properly organized. Its success depends on the good governance.

The results of content analysis of national and regional sports events reports among the disabled, the documents regulating the organization of sports work with disabled people of various nosological groups, interviews (conversations and interviews) of the adaptive sports movement participants (coaches, sports teams representatives and sports organizations and clubs leaders for disabled people), generalization of home sports organizations experience and their own experience of participation in the sports events organization for disabled people as a volunteer and a direct organizer, as well as electronic resources have allowed to identify the stages of the competition preparation and conducting (table 3).

Table 3 Characteristic of the preparation stages and carrying out sports competitions for disabled people


Stage name


Determination of the venue and the appointment of officials The venue and the candidacy of charge (hereinafter — the Director) approves the Regional Office of the Paralympics Committee. If the regional office doesn’t have such a structure, this function takes the Regional Department of Sport and Tourism.The Director invites the Chief Judge of competitions, whose candidacy is also approved by the Regional Office of the Paralympics Committee. Chief Judge forms the judiciary for the competition.  Badges with a photograph, indicating the name and the position are designed for officials.
Publication of a booklet on competitions The booklet includes the following sections: the competitions regulations, the basic rules of security, access to the place and accommodation in hotels; hotels addresses and referral services; the schedule, time and place of the Credentials Committee passing, the time and place of the grand opening event; time and place of weighing (if competitions are held with the weight categories), a list of officials, organizers’ phone numbers, fax numbers, e-mail. The booklet also contains information on the estimated number of competitors in each nosological group, the municipalities’ names that the disabled athletes belong to.
The Organizing Committee Formation The organizing committee consists of region representatives, officials (Director and Chief Judge), sometimes sponsors, patrons, representatives of public organizations, surd pedagogues, team representatives, volunteers and other individuals. The list of organizing committee candidates is usually agreed with the regional government.
Regulations on competition working out Director works out the Regulations on competition. The regional office of the Paralympics Committee or the Department of Sports and Tourism approves these Regulations. The Regulations reflect the goals and objectives of the competition, time and place, competitors, competition schedule, the Organizing Committee, the judges’ board, financing conditions, athletes insurance, the order of winners awarding.
Costs estimate working out and financing sources determination Director works out the estimates for the competition. It is necessary to apply to the regional government for the allocation of funds for payment of the judging panel and awards. However, the allocated funds are usually not enough. In this regard, it is necessary to search for sponsors and patrons, and the possibility of placing advertising banners and distributing leaflets at the competition site.
The action plan for the competition preparation and its script working out For a clear division of responsibilities for the preparation of the competition among the organizing committee members the action plan and timetable for the organizing committee meetings are worked out. The action plan determines the dates and persons responsible for each part of the work. The competition script as well as the grand opening and closing ceremonies are worked out. The actors are searched for the performing in the ceremonies. The organizing committee has the right to approve the competition logo, the attributes (badges, pennants, T-shirts, etc.).
Participants pre-registration The location and schedule of events are distributed in advance. After that participants pre-registration is organized (by phone, fax, Internet, etc.). The earlier the participants list in each nosological group is known the better preparation for a competition will be. Especially, concerning the budget planning and disabled athletes’ accommodations in hotels. Taking into account the pathology of the disease of each athlete, the search for hotels should be particularly careful.
Negotiations with the hotel and catering organizations Negotiations with the hotel to book a seat for disabled athletes must be in strict compliancewith the pathology of disease. Unfortunately, most of the hotels are not adapted to the reception of disabled people (for lack of handrails, ramps, racks, etc.), however, it is necessary to try to ensure the placing of disabled athletes in comfortable rooms. Motor impaired should be placed on the ground floor, athletes with visual impairments shouldn’t be placed in rooms with bunk beds, etc. Cafes should be in the immediate proximity to the hotel. If the competition takes a whole day, then the catering should be organized by the venue of the competition.
Preparation of documents for athletes The competitions held in the form of the sports festival among the disabled or Para-sports competition require necessary documents for each athlete: badge with the name, surname, nosological group, sports organization the athlete belongs to, registration card, scheme with the sports shells location. Before the competition documents are placed in the envelope, which the athlete’s surname is written on. Issuance of envelopes is a duty of special person (volunteer). The Director and the Chief Judge duties do not include this one.
Organization of cultural events and leisure time If the event takes place within a few days, the organization of cultural and leisure activities is an integral part of the rest for the sportsmen. It is necessary to organize tours, both on the tourist routes of the host region, and in places where the athletes live. Volunteers play an active role in these events, guiding tours, organizing discos and recitals for disabled athletes.
Organization of transport services for competitors If the organizers are able to transport athletes from stations and airports, it is stipulated in advance by pre-registration. Schedule and delivery route of athletes to the hotel is worked out.
Organization of the volunteers’ work The team of volunteers is formed from volunteers. It is advisable to perform the duties of volunteer by universities and colleges students, studying at the field of «Physical education for people with disabilities (Adaptive Physical Education)», «Physical rehabilitation», «Therapeutic physical culture», as well as by medical colleges students. Volunteers’ captain is elaborated by the General Meeting, so he conducts organizational meetings, assigns volunteers for the municipalities or regional teams, organizes interviews for disabled athletes to determine complaints to the organization and conduction of the competitions.
Organization of the dispensary At any competition, especially adaptive sports competitions, one must have dispensaries. At major competitions «first aid» team should be organized. If the competition is held in a special place, for example, on the basis of the camp and held for several days, the medical staff must be on duty twenty-four-hour.
Registration of the participants Registration for the competitors must begin not later than 2 hours before the start of the competition, at the competition of Federal level – a day before. Registration place for participants must be marked as «Register» and equipped with tables and chairs. Registration Place must be set up indoors or, if the competition takes place in the open air, under a large tent. By the place of registration there should be an electricity supply (220V) or a generator. Registration place should be equipped with the necessary office equipment: a computer, a printer, a photocopier, a calculator and so on. Registration is held by specially trained people. Volunteers are assigned for each municipal or regional team at registration.
The distribution of the competitors on the nosological groups and classifications At registration disabled athletes are classified according to the nature of the disease. Especially this concerns athletes with lesions of the musculoskeletal system. For example, it is appropriate to divide athletes of this group into wheelchair users, people with cerebral palsy, common diseases, etc. Before the competition on power sports (power lifting, weightlifting, etc.) the list with a weighting schedule is made in advance. This step is very important. Its clear conduction helps to the timely beginning of the competition.
Organization of the Credentials Committee The Credentials Committee duties include providing verification of medical certificates, which define a particular group a disabled athlete belongs to and the nature of the disease, as well as the doctor’s admission to compete. Without proper documents credentials committee members have the right not to allow an athlete to participate in the competition.
Meeting guests, sponsors, government representatives The Director and the other competition organizers take care of the comfort of the tourists, sponsors, government representatives. Guests should be provided with the necessary attributes of the competition, acquainted with the competition specifics and schedule, coffee break should be organized for them.
Organization of judges’ and volunteers’ work For each type of competition the judging panel and the team of volunteers are formed. Judges and volunteers must have a special uniform. A volunteer is not a judge. His duties are to help athletes with disabilities, to transport them to the sports grounds, to fulfill judge’s recommendations. Before the competition the Referee instructs the judiciary and the volunteer corps. Refereeing requirements and necessary assistance, according to the specific of each type of competition are spoken about. At the end of each day of competition the Referee with the judiciary give a summery, analyzing the characteristics of judging incidents, protests, etc.
Opening ceremony Before the opening ceremony the disabled athletes should be lined up so that wheelchair users were located in the first row behind the athletes of other nosological groups. If the ceremony involves an extensive program of amateur talented groups, the athletes in wheelchairs should be set up in front of the stands, and other athletes — in the stands. During the opening performance the Russian flag is raised up, followed by the sound of the Russian Federation national anthem. The opening of the ceremony is entrusted to the guests of honor — the Head of the city (region) or his assistants. Solemn word is given to sponsors, patrons, representatives of public organizations of disabled people and social services. Congratulatory letters and telegrams are read out. At the festival a sign language interpreter should assist. After the end of the Chief Justice inauguration the order of the competition is read out, athletes are informed about the location of the sports facilities, dispensary, the judiciary, the organizing committee.
Products delivery and catering During the competition hot meals should be organized, recommended at a common lunch break
Making reporting documents After the competitions the Referee makes final reports. Copies of the reports are sent to the city government and the Regional Department of the Para-Olympic Committee. In addition to the report of the results of competitions the information about incidents that have occurred, top scorers (players) if the competitions were held in team sports, disciplinary sanctions applied to athletes and others is given. The Chief Justice fills in judges’ cards writing down the points for their work.

In addition to the data in Table 3, we note that at the end of the competition State-judge counts up the results carefully, studying them, and then prints without the ranking and post for reading and accepting the athletes’ complains. Final results with ranking are announced by organizers during the awarding.

State-judge hands out the results of the individual and team competitions with ranking to the organizers. The Director appoints persons responsible for the awarding, and they quickly make up certificates, prepare cups and prizes. Necessarily they prepare the report with the names of the winners. The report is printed and checked up in advance.

Closing ceremony is held solemnly. Gifts and prizes may be presented at the banquet if there was a preliminary agreement. A floor is given to the guests of honor, the work of the organizing committee and the judiciary should be marked. Volunteers’ work is specially thanked. Letters of appreciation are presented to sponsors, patrons and volunteers’ teams. The date of the following competition is announced.

After the competition the judiciary must necessarily sum up the work, discuss the challenges, especially to identify the positive and negative situations that have occurred during the competition.

Depending on their level and nozological group the program of sports competitions may include competitions on various types of physical activity and sport. For example, the category of «people with hearing disabilities» is the most adapted to any competition from team sports to the individual ones (football, basketball, arm wrestling, power lifting, table tennis, etc.). Category of «people with eyesight disabilities» has less variety. Different from traditional sports is a specific category, including goal ball, tour ball, mini-soccer, running with the leader, cycling with the leader, cross-country skiing with the leader, etc. The category of  «athletes with musculoskeletal system disabilities» is represented by sports such as bocce, arm wrestling, power lifting, Russian press. Athletes may also compete in swimming, shot put, table tennis, rides in wheelchairs.

The results are given persons with disabilities about the shortcomings of the organization of sports competitions in the table 4.

Table 4 The list of disadvantages of organization of sports competitions for disabled people



1 Inconvenient schedule of competitions
2 Insufficient number of volunteers (sign language interpreters, guides)
3 Poor quality of sports equipment
4 Lack of descents, ramps, racks, handrails, lifts, signs, equipment, and facilities / equipment for people with eyesight and hearing disabilities
5 Difficult access of disabled people to sports grounds, public areas and the audience
6 The lack of specially equipped pedestals for the winners, car parks, toilets, etc.
7 The lack or shortage of locker rooms
8 Improper positioning of the seats or their lack
9 Poor quality of playgrounds coating
10 The lack or shortage of places to warm up
11 Wrong placing of judges at the sports grounds
12 Lack of medical services
13 Faults with the board or its absence
14 The lack of musical accompaniment
15 Inconvenient location of the competition venue
16 The absence of the grand opening of the competition
17 Abnormal temperature at the sports base

To identify groups of disadvantages in the organization of competitions for disabled people, we carried out a cluster analysis (using the method of minimum variance, the square Euclidean distance served as a metric).

Clustering results are shown in Table 5.

Table 5 The cluster structure of the disadvantages of the organization of sports competitions for disabled people


Disadvantages and complaints to the organization

and carrying out  of  sports competitions

Unavailability of competition organizers to provide barrier-free surroundings for the participants and spectators with disabilities Complaints to the architecture of sports facilities (lack of access for disabled people to the sports grounds, public areas and the audience), the availability and quality of equipment and facilities for people with eyesight and hearing disabilities (lack of descents, ramps, racks, handrails, lifts, signs, specially equipped pedestals for winners, car parks, toilets, etc.)
Disadvantages of competitive process organization Mistakes in the distribution of participants for classifications, inconvenient schedule of competitions, not enough qualified judging, wrong placing of judges at sports grounds, lack of medical services
Complains to the  entertainments of  sports competitions and the convenience for spectators Improper positioning of the seats or their absence, the absence of the grand opening event, the lack or shortage of places to warm up, faults or absence of the scoreboard, complaints to the organization of sign language (for the deaf athletes)
Complains  to the every day component Inconveniences with placing participants in hotels and catering centres, insufficient number of volunteers (sign language interpreters, guides), abnormal temperature at the sports base, the lack of cultural events in spare time
The low level of the material-technical basis of the competition Complains to inventory, athletes’ equipment, sports grounds covering

4. Discussion

The given clusters are five groups of problems of the organization of sports competitions for people with disabilities, such as:

1) Unpreparedness of the competition organizers to provide barrier-free surroundings for participants and spectators with disabilities (complains to the architecture of sports facilities, availability and quality of the equipment (devices) for people with movement, vision and hearing disabilities etc.);

2) Disadvantages in the competitive process organization (mistakes in the distribution of participants by classifications, inconvenient schedule of competitions, unqualified refereeing);

3) Complaints to the entertainment of sports competition and spectators’ comfort;

4) Complains to the every day component (discomfort while placing participants in hotels, insufficient number of volunteers, lack of cultural competitions in spare time);

5) The low level of material and technical basis of competitions (complains to inventory, athletes’ equipment and sports grounds covering).

Satisfaction analysis of disabled athletes by the quality of a certain event is equally important in the organization of sports competitions in adaptive sports. Organizers should use the measure of the customer’s satisfaction degree as an important instrument of qualitative management.

5. Conclusion

For the purpose of effective planning, organization and carrying out of competitions for disabled people, we have made the list of attributes (features) of successfully organized and efficiently carried out competition for people with disabilities, such as:

- Thought-out competitions regulations: the exact athletes’ distribution by disabilities classifications and convenient schedule of competitions including a variety of cultural and leisure activities (tours, discos, quizzes, karaoke contests, etc.);

- sufficient quantity and high quality of sports facilities (including those for warming-up), equipment and inventory;

- barrier-free surroundings for athletes with disabilities: the presence of specially equipped car parks, toilets and showers, descents and low curbs, ramps, stands, lifts, vertical barriers, winners’ pedestals, access to the information (for the blind using Braille’s code and audio signals, for the deaf using induction systems and sign language interpreters), etc;

- sufficient number of experienced specialists (volunteers, sign language interpreters, attendants, psychologists, medical specialists,  technical staff, security staff, etc.) professionally prepared to work with disabled people;

- high level of professionalism and a sufficient number of sports judges (judges’ teams) who have experience in judging competitions of different nosological groups of disabled people;

- sufficient number of mobile medical teams (if the competition takes place at various sports venues) and dispensaries, working twenty-four-hour;

- comfortable athletes’ accommodation according to their nosology (eg, placing of motor impaired athletes on the ground floor if there’s no special lifts and elevators, placing of the blind in rooms with no bunk beds), feeding the athletes, coaches and team officials in their places of accommodation (accommodation and competitions);

- comfortable conditions for spectators, fans and media representatives (presence of commentator cabins and press boxes, presence of seats well fenced and protected from the rain and wind, convenient access road (the possibility of placing in the first row) for wheelchair users, appropriate stairs height or presence of seats for the VIP guests and official people);

- Compulsory organization of solemn opening and closing cermonies of the competitions, inviting officials, sponsors, patrons, artists, famous athletes, media representatives and others;

- Organization of photo exhibitions and video presentations with key points and the competition winners.


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