1977, Sydney


In 1975, Sydney was chosen to host the 2nd FESPIC Games because Australia was the home of FESPIC founding members Dr John Grant and Mr Graham Pryke. The Games were held in and around Parramatta, from 20-26 November, 1977. Approximately 420 athletes from 15 countries participated: Australia, Burma, Fiji, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, and Tonga.  It was the first international, multi-sport event for athletes with a disability conducted in Australia since the 1962 Commonwealth Paraplegic Games.

Fundraising to host the Games exceeded the $100,000 budget by $45,000 due to widespread government, business and community support, together with sales of programs, souvenirs, t-shirts and medallions.

Costs were minimised by the recruitment of volunteers for nearly every aspect of the Games. The local Broadcaster newspaper described the Games preparation as the “biggest voluntary project ever undertaken in NSW”. Free admission helped to maximise attendance.

The Games were opened by the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, in a ceremony held at Merrylands Oval with 3,000 spectators. 8-year-old Tony Cassera, who was hearing impaired and an amputee competitor in the swimming competitions, lit the flame at the opening ceremony.

Unique/Special Features:

In the lead up to the games, the Holroyd Council created special car parking spaces for people with disability and erected signs marked “Reserved Parking Space for the Disabled”. Common practice throughout Australia today, it was an innovation in 1977.

Immediately after the Games, the NSW State Government announced a new design standard for disability access in future public buildings.

Sydney Turf Club authorised the running of the “FESPIC Games Handicap” in November 1977.

The fundraising efforts ensured a surplus of $45,000 from the Games. A trust fund was established and over the next 26 years the interest on the principal subsidised athletes from South Pacific and Asian countries to attend the FESPIC Games. The trust was dismantled in the late 2000s after the FESPIC games were replaced by the Asian Paralympic Games, and the remaining funds were equally divided between the NSW Wheelchair Sports Association and the Blind Sporting Association of NSW.