The FESPIC Games, short for the Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled were a major multi-sport event for disabled athletes in Asia and South Pacific, and among the longest running events of its kind. Inaugurated in the mid-1970s, the FESPIC Games were held for more than three decades when they were superseded by the Asian Para Games.
Inception and the First FESPIC Games
The FESPIC Games were first held in Oita, Japan in 1975. The foundation of this multi-sport event for disabled athletes was influenced greatly by the disestablishment of the Commonwealth Paraplegic Games, which were held for the last time in 1974. They were supposed to be replaced by the World Zone Games but the project was never realised. As a result, Asia and the Pacific region suddenly found themselves without an international competition for athletes with disabilities.
One man couldn’t accept the fact that there was no international multi-sport event for disabled athletes in the region. And it was the same man who played a crucial role in the foundation of the Commonwealth Paraplegic Games - Australian doctor George Bedbrook. The founding father of the equivalent of the Commonwealth Games for disabled athletes as Bedbrook is often referred to was also the central figure in the creation of the FESPIC Games that were inaugurated in Oita and provided disabled athletes with the opportunities to compete in a number of sports and later also to qualify for the Paralympic Games.
Disestablishment and Afterwards
The FESPIC Games were hugely popular and the number of participants grew with each event also because a good result guaranteed a “ticket” for the Paralympics. After the closing ceremony of the 2006 FESPIC Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, however, it was decided to discontinue with the Games and replace the event with the Asian Para Games. These were held for the first time in Guangzhou, China, in 2010 immediately after the Asian Games.
Just like the FESPIC Games, the Asian Para Games more or less have the same goal and purpose: to enable athletes with disabilities to take part in competitive sports, promote sports among disabled people, and advance understanding and interest in both welfare and issues faced by disabled people through sports. And just like the FESPIC Games, the Asian Para Games serve as a qualifier for the Paralympic Games.