Did You Know? The Significant Costs of Para Sport

Canadian Paralympic Committee

July 05, 2024

The IGNITE campaign – a campaign to raise $35 million, making it the largest-ever initiative to empower the Paralympic Movement in Canada.

Athletes against a colourful background for the purpose of describing the PFC's IGNITE Campaign

Participating in Para sports involves significant financial burdens for athletes, community sport organizations and National Sporting Organizations (NSOs). The costs of specialized equipment and the resources required to support athletes at all levels are substantial, creating barriers that can limit participation and hinder the development of elite talent.


The Paralympic Foundation of Canada (PFC) has recently launched the IGNITE campaign – a campaign to raise $35 million, making it the largest-ever initiative to empower the Paralympic Movement in Canada.

Targeting Paralympic sport initiatives that help athletes along their development pathway, funding support goes towards sport development programming such as recruitment initiatives, coaching, competition and more. The IGNITE initiative aims to ensure Canadians with a disability are offered ample opportunities to experience the transformative power of sport.

Bo Hedges, Canadian Men’s Wheelchair Basketball star, believes that equipment cost is a factor for young athletes with a disability who are having their first experiences with trying Para sport.

“Equipment costs are a definitely a factor [for young Para athletes] and if you don’t have a decent piece of equipment when you come out and try it for the first time as a young athlete with a disability, you might have a bad experience and then you go do something else for a bunch of years,” the four-time Paralympian shared.

“Then you might come back to Para sport later or not. So having good equipment out there across the board in all Para sports will definitely hook young people and make sure they have a better experience the first time they play.”

Para athletics

Para athletics is a diverse sport that includes track and field events adapted for athletes with various disabilities:

Throwing Frame: Athletes with mobility impairments often require a throwing frame to stabilize them during events like shot put, discus, and javelin. These frames, customized to meet the athlete’s specific needs, can cost as much as $2,000.

Racing Wheelchairs: For athletes competing in track events, high-performance racing wheelchairs are essential. These wheelchairs, designed for speed and agility, typically range between $12,000 and $15,000, making it a significant financial challenge for new athletes.

Running Blades: Athletes with lower-limb impairments use running blades, which are often customized for optimal performance. The cost of these blades varies widely but typically starts at around $4,500 for a basic model suitable for below-knee amputees.

For more advanced blades, especially those required by above-knee amputees, the cost can significantly increase. These more advanced blades can include additional components such as knee sockets, driving the price up to $25,000 or more depending on the specific needs of the athlete. This substantial investment highlights the financial challenges faced by Para athletes in acquiring the necessary equipment to compete at their highest potential.

By making a donation to the Paralympic Foundation of Canada, you can help make this equipment more accessible to Para athletes at all levels. Donate here.

Para cycling

Para cycling includes various disciplines for athletes with different types of disabilities, each requiring specialized equipment:

Handcycles: Athletes with lower-limb impairments use handcycles, which are powered by the arms. A high-quality handcycle frame can cost up to $25,000, reflecting the need for lightweight, durable materials and advanced engineering.

Tandem Bikes: Visually impaired cyclists compete on tandem bikes with a sighted pilot. These bikes cost around $20,000, and the training and competition expenses double as both the athlete and pilot require travel accommodations.

Tricycles: Tricyclists, who need additional stability, use a classic road bike adapted with a trike kit. This adaptation typically costs upwards of $5,000.

Help make Para sport more accessible to Canadians with disabilities by making a donation today. Donate here.


This precision ball sport also comes with high equipment costs:

Balls and Ramps: Boccia athletes need between 13 and 26 balls, which must be purchased from recognized suppliers to meet international standards. This can cost up to $2,600. Additionally, some athletes require a competition-level ramp, which can cost as much as $5,000, to propel the balls accurately.

Support the Paralympic Foundation of Canada to remove financial barriers for Canadians with disabilities to access international-level equipment. Donate here.


Goalball is a team sport designed specifically for athletes with visual impairments:

Equipment: A regulation goalball net can cost upwards of $5,000, and due to its size, requires significant storage space. Players also need eyeshades to ensure fairness, which cost between $50 and $100. Different tournaments may have specific requirements for these eyeshades, adding to the overall expense.

Your donation can help grow the Paralympic Movement in Canada by providing necessary equipment. Donate here.

Para swimming

Swimming prosthetics are crucial for younger athletes with limb impairments to maintain symmetry and performance:

Swimming Prosthetics: These prosthetics are tailored for aquatic use and can cost upwards of $1,000. In addition to training prosthetics, athletes often need everyday prosthetics, which range from $25,000 to $50,000, adding to the financial burden outside of sport.

Help create opportunities for Canadians with disabilities to participate in sport by donating now. Donate here.

Wheelchair Sports (Basketball, Curling, Rugby, Tennis)

These popular Para sports require specialized wheelchairs:

Specialized Chairs: Wheelchairs used in basketball, rugby, and tennis are designed for agility and durability, costing between $5,000 and $15,000. Athletes who use wheelchairs daily must also invest in a separate everyday use wheelchair, increasing their overall expenses.

Together, we can IGNITE change in Canada. By making a donation to the Paralympic Foundation of Canada, you’re working towards a sport system where Canadians with disabilities BELONG. Donate here.

Para canoe

Para canoe allows athletes with disabilities to compete in a sport rooted in Indigenous traditions:

Fitted Seats: A beginner in Para canoeing will need a custom-fitted seat to ensure proper support and balance, costing at least $1,000. This specialized equipment is crucial for safety and performance on the water.

Your support makes it possible for more Canadians with disabilities to participate in sport. Donate here.

Para equestrian

Para equestrian involves riding sports tailored for athletes with physical impairments:

Adaptive Saddles: Para riders often require specially adapted saddles to accommodate their disabilities. Customizing a saddle to meet these specific needs can cost around $5,000, in addition to the cost of a standard saddle. These expenses can be significant due to the extensive customization required to ensure the rider’s safety and performance.

Your contribution can help provide the necessary adaptive equipment for Para equestrian athletes, ensuring they have the tools needed to compete and excel. Donate here.

Sitting Volleyball

This team sport is adapted for athletes with various physical impairments:

Training and Equipment: The centralized training locations for Canada’s women’s sitting volleyball team in Edmonton, Alberta, along with their specialized equipment needs, come with significant costs. Most athletes do not live near the centralized training center in Edmonton, so travelling to train together adds substantial expenses. Additionally, specialized equipment such as knee sockets and everyday prosthetics are essential for athletes but can be costly.

The requirement for physical disability classification further adds to the financial burden. These combined factors highlight the importance of funding and support to ensure athletes can train effectively and have the necessary equipment to compete at their best.

Reduce barriers to participation in Paralympic sport by supporting the Paralympic Foundation of Canada. Donate here.

Para rowing

Para rowing includes athletes with different types of physical disabilities, each requiring specific adaptations:

Custom Seats: Depending on the athlete’s disability, they may require custom seats for their boats, typically costing around $5,000. For indoor training, a custom Rowing ERG seat can add an additional $1,000.

Help IGNITE change in Canada by growing the Paralympic Movement. Donate here.

Visually Impaired Athletes

Many Para sports include categories for visually impaired athletes, who often require guides:

Guide Costs: These athletes face doubled travel costs and additional expenses for uniforms and other necessities, making their participation more costly.

Your donation provides meaningful support in reducing the cost of entering sport that Para athletes face. Donate here.

Human Resources

The human resources required for Para sports, including specialized coaching and programming, significantly increase overall costs:

Coaching and Programming: These resources are essential for developing and supporting Para athletes but are often difficult to fund. Coaching Para athletes requires specialized knowledge and expertise, which is often more advanced than coaching able-bodied sports. As a result, there are fewer qualified coaches available.

Also, the education and training costs to become a proper Para sport coach are higher due to specialized instruction and certification. This increased need for funding highlights the importance of initiatives like IGNITE the Light in supporting the development of these critical resources.

Make a donation today to help reduce the strain of overall sport costs and support the needs of Canadian Para athletes. Donate here.

The Paralympic Foundation of Canada (PFC) is dedicated to raising funds to reduce these financial barriers. Through the IGNITE campaign, PFC aims to make Para sport more accessible to Canadians with disabilities. By donating to PFC, you help provide the necessary equipment, support services, and opportunities for athletes to compete at all levels.

Your donation can make a significant impact on the lives of Para athletes. Help IGNITE change and support the Paralympic Foundation of Canada’s mission by donating today. Visit the Paralympic Foundation of Canada to contribute and make a difference. Together, we can create a more inclusive sports environment where Canadians with a disability can thrive and belong. Thank you for your support in making Para sport accessible for all.

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