The Paralympic Games

The earliest records of Boccia date from a few centuries before Christ, using balls made of stone. The game would also have been played in the Ancient Olympic Games and in Italy, in the sixteenth century, by the aristocracy. Another reference is the game of Pétanque, which appeared in 1910, in France.

However, only in the 70's  the sport was revived by the Nordic countries, with the aim of adapting it for people with disabilities. At first, it was played only by people with severe cerebral palsy and a high degree of motor impairment (four affected limbs and using a wheelchair) - today, it is open to people with disabilities similar to quadriplegia.

Boccia entered the international sporting calendar through the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CP-ISRA), and its introduction in the Paralympic Games occurred in the 1984 games in New York - which co-hosted the Games with Stoke Mandeville, England - only with individual competitions. The pair events were introduced only in 1996, in Atlanta.

The object of the game is to roll balls, coloured red or blue - one colour for each contestant - as close as possible to a smaller, white ball called “jack”. Each ball placed near the jack scores points. If balls of different colours are equidistant from the jack, each contestant earns a point. The winner is the player who achieves the highest score. In case of a tie, an extra round is played as a tie-breaker to decide the winner.

Players may use their hands, feet and heads as aids, and even an assistant in the case of those with severe impairment of the upper and lower limbs. Matches are divided into rounds, or ends, and their number varies depending on the participants on the court.

Individual games have four ends, and in each the player bowls six balls. Doubles games also have four ends, and each participant bowls three balls. When the teams have three players, there are six ends with two balls per player for each end.