Paratriathlon will make its debut at the Paralympic Games in 2016, following in the footsteps of triathlon, which became part of the Olympic programme at the Sydney 2000 Games. Since the first paratriathlon world championships, in 1989 in Avignon, France, the sport has become more and more popular throughout the world.

The course includes a 750m swim, a 20km cycle and a 5km race, a distance known as the triathlon sprint. As in the Olympic version of the sport, time spent in transition between swimming, cycling and running is included in the total event time, and the athlete who completes the course in the least time wins.

People with various types of disabilities take part in the sport, including wheelchair users, amputees and visually impaired athletes. They are classified according to their capabilities and may use adapted equipment to assist their movement - for example, paraplegic competitors or wheelchair users may use a manual bicycle called a handcycle, turning the pedals with their hands, for the cycling stage, and compete in the race in a wheelchair.

The five classes of paratriathlon are defined by the International Triathlon Union (ITU), using a specific scoring system represented by the acronym PT. Class PT1 includes all wheelchair users. In this class, athletes use handcycles in the cycling section and a special wheelchair for the race section. To be in this category, athletes must have a score of up to 640 points.

Classes PT2, PT3 and PT4 are for athletes with impairments such as limb deficiencies, hypertonia, ataxia and/or athetosis, and impaired muscle power or range of movement. In these classes, amputee athletes may use approved prostheses or other supportive devices. Class PT2 is for athletes with a score of up to 454.9 points, while class PT3 is for athletes scoring between 455 and 494.9 points, and class PT4 is for competitors who through classification assessment obtain a score of between 495 and 557.

Class PT5 includes athletes with a visual impairment and is subdivided into B1, B2 and B3, in line with the visual capacity of each athlete. A guide of the same nationality and sex is obligatory throughout the race. In this category, athletes and their guides must ride a tandem during the cycling stage.