“It’s Official – London 2012 to be Biggest Paralympic Games Ever“, was the proud announcement at the Official Website of the Paralympic Movement ahead of this year’s Paralympic Games in London. While the games can not yet compete with the Olympics (over 10,000 athletes came to London just a few weeks ago), a new record has been set with over 4,200 athletes taking part at the 2012 Paralympics in the British capital. According to Wikipedia, this is “an increase of 250 athletes in comparison to the 2008 Summer Paralympics. They will represent 164 countries, 17 more than in Beijing. Fourteen countries will be making their Paralympic Games début: Antigua and Barbuda, Brunei, Cameroon, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mozambique, North Korea, San Marino, the Solomon Islands, and the US Virgin Islands“.
Leaving absolute numbers aside, the participation patterns in the Paralympics as shown in the following Worldmapper-style cartogram are not that strikingly different to those from the Olympics (a comparison to the Olympic Games can be found here). However, many interesting differences can still be spotted when looking at the details: China, and even more so Brazil are amongst the countries who (in relation) play an even bigger role, while the European dominance is slightly reduced, partly due to smaller shares of Eastern Europe (where Ukraine strikes out as one of the larger participants). In the Pacific, New Zealand’s size shrunk from is far larger number of athletes at the Olympics. The following map shows in proportion where all the sportsmen and women have traveled to London from this year (the two inset maps show the world’s population distribution in comparison and a conventional land area map as a reference):