The Paralympics has grown from a small gathering of British World War II veterans in 1948 to become one of the largest international sporting events by the early 21st century. The Paralympics has grown from 400 athletes with a disability from 23 countries in 1960 to thousands of competitors from over 100 countries in the London 2012 Games. Paralympians strive for equal treatment with non-disabled Olympic athletes, but there is a large funding gap between Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
Nine cities submitting bids to host the 2012 Summer Olympics and 2012 Paralympics were recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The Committee shortlisted five of them—London, Madrid, Moscow, New York City, and Paris—from which London eventually prevailed; it will become the first city to host the Olympic Games for a third time. The bidding process for the 2012 Olympics was considered one of the most hotly contested in the history of the IOC. Paris was seen as the front-runner for most of the campaign, but last-minute lobbying by London's supporters was one factor that led to the success of its bid. Madrid was regarded as one of the favourites, but the city did not receive enough votes to surpass Paris and London. The fact that Spain held the Olympics in 1992 was also a major detriment to Madrid's bid.