The International Association of Sport for People with Mental Handicap was established in 1986 by professionals in the Netherlands who were involved in sport and wanted to promote the participation of athletes with “mental handicap”. Known as INAS-FMH, the founding meeting and first Executive were appointed in January 1986 and became a member of the ICC – the International Coordinating Committee – which in 1992 became the International Paralympic Committee.
INAS-FMH’ original membership was just 14 nations which has steadily grown to more than 80 nations today.
The organisation’s first General Assembly was held in November 1988 in Madrid, Spain, at which time the first full Executive was elected. In 1989, the ‘1st World Games for Athletes with an Intellectual Disability’ were held in Harnosand, Sweden
In September 1991 ahead of the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games, the first Paralympic Games for ‘Persons with mental handicap’ were held in Madrid, at which 70 nations competed. In 1994, INAS-FMH became INAS-FID – the ‘International Sports Federation for Persons with Intellectual Disability’. In 1996, a small programme for athletes with an intellectual disability was included in the Paralympic Games in Atlanta before a larger programme including athletics, swimming and basketball was included in Sydney 2000.
Following a period of absence from the Paralympic programme, events for athletes with an intellectual impairment were re-instated by the IPC General Assembly in November 2009. Around 120 athletes went on to compete in athletics, swimming and table tennis at London 2012. During this period, INAS’ sport programme grew considerably to incorporate more than 10 sports whilst its membership and reach grew to cover five continents.
In 2017, the INAS General Assembly voted to run a trial of eligibility groups for athletes with more severe impairment and autism in INAS competition, in addition to those with an intellectual impairment. The first competition to try-out the new groups were the 2017 INAS World Table Tennis Championships in Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic.
Today’s sport programme includes some 15 annual events, more than 4,500 athletes are registered to compete at an international level, whilst more than 300,000 people with an intellectual disability worldwide have the opportunity to enjoy sport through the work of our member organisations.
On 19th October 2019, at the closing ceremony of the 5th Global Games, INAS announced a substantial rebranding and will henceforth be known as Virtus: World Intellectual Impairment Sport. Read about the new brand.
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