As a Brit in 2012, it's hard not to be impressed by how the public and media has taken to the Paralympic games. The overall attitude towards disabilities has been overwhelmingly positive.
This raised the question - which countries back disability sport the best?
Supporting a Paralympian requires a lot of funding; from the rehabilitation of someone who has received an injury, all the way to training them to international standard. Therefore it is unreasonable to expect poorer countries to be able to support Paralympians to the same level as Olympians. And for reasons of time efficiency, it is unreasonable to expect me to compare the data for every country on the planet.
Therefore, a reasonable sample of countries to take is the G20; Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the USA.
To be able to compare how each country has done at Paralympic games, we need to get a base level for how good they are at elite sport, and a simple way to measure that is to look at the percentage of medals won in Olympic games. The time period we chose was from the 2000 Sydney Games onwards; this is sufficiently recent so as to be relevant, but also gives us plenty of data to work with. It was also considered a watershed Games for perception of Paralympic sports.
Below are these results:
As a side-note, we can see that the percentage of medals these countries are winning is increasing every Olympics; in the long run it might be a worry for the image of the Olympics if countries are missing out on medals due to their economies.
We can now work out the same percentages for the Paralympic games, in order to allow us to compare Paralympic and Olympic success:
Comparing the Results
To see which countries have done the best at Paralympic sport given their Olympic success, we can now divide PM/T by OM/T, and get the following:
The comparison between the twenty countries' Olympic and Paralympic successes are shown on the graph below:
So below is the above table, but only featuring the 10 countries with over 100 Olympic medals:
On the other hand, we can also see what a massive boost hosting a Paralympic Games has on a countrys' Paralympic success, with the top three in our table are the only three in our 20 who hosted Games. However, even if you discounted the games where these three countries hosted games, they would still be the top 3 ranked nations (just their lead would be less so), so perhaps it is unfair to blithely attribute these countries' successes to that.
So we've seen how we can normalise Paralympic success to take into account how various countries usually do at Olympic games. This has allowed us to see which countries are the best at providing sport to those with disabilities.
Wikipedia - for medal tables from the Sydney, Athens, Beijing and London Games.