Competition at the Highest Levels



Boccia – pronounced “BAH cha” – originated in Greece and Italy, and closely resembles the Italian game bocce. It made its Paralympic debut in the 1984 Games.

Originally played only by athletes with cerebral palsy, it is now open to all athletes with severe locomotor disabilities, like those who have spinal injuries.

Boccia is played on a long, narrow court by individuals, or teams of two or three. The key skill is accuracy, as athletes throw, kick, or use assistive devices to aim their red or blue leather balls at a white target ball, called the “jack.” At the end of each round, or “end,” the referee measures the distance between the balls and the jack, awarding a point for each ball that is closer to the jack than the opponent's closest ball. The team/player with the highest number of points at the end of play is the winner.

Men and women play in mixed teams in all boccia events.

Top Contenders:
• In 2008 Brazil and South Korea won the most gold medals in boccia with two each, although Portugal won the most medals in total (five). • The last American to medal in boccia was Steven Thompson, who won bronze in the Individual C1 event in 1996.

Paralympics 2012 Competition: Sept. 2 – Sept. 8

Athlete Classifications

Athletes who compete in boccia must use a wheelchair because of cerebral palsy or another neurological condition that has similar effects, such as muscular dystrophy or traumatic brain injury. Players are assigned to a sport class that allows them to compete against other athletes with a similar level of physical function.

Class Disability


Athletes who throw with the hand or foot, and who compete with an assistant to stabilize the wheelchair or give the ball to the player.


Athletes who have reduced strength in their arms or legs, but can throw with the hand. They are not eligible for assistance.


Athletes with such severe dysfunction in all four limbs that they cannot propel the ball onto the court. They compete with an assistive device such as a ramp and with a playing assistant.


Athletes with severe dysfunction in all four limbs as well as poor trunk control, but who can throw the ball onto the court. They are not eligible for assistance.

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