Arnhem 1980 – Paralympic Emblem

The Soviet Union, hosts of the 1980 Summer Olympics, were invited to host these Paralympics. However, disability sport was not there, and they passed; notoriously, a statement was issued denying the existence of any disabled people in the country people (labelled "invalids" by Soviet officials). Soviet Paralympic teams were first represented in the 1988 Summer and Winter Games, also the last while the Soviet Union was extant. The first Paralympics on former Soviet territory would be in 2014.

There was controversy during the preparation for these Games over the inclusion of a team from South Africa. In the Netherlands, public and official opinion was against the inclusion of the South African team and pressure came from a number of sports organisations against the Organising Committee. The Dutch Parliament was negative as well. Eventually, the parliament decided against allowing the participation of the South African team. Although "much of the publicity relating to the South African participation had been negative, it did succeed in bringing the disabled sports movement into the minds of many people who would not have otherwise considered the subject at all. Dutch organisers also increased visibility through their fundraising ... building a fund that would hold a surplus years after the games. This would naturally find its expression in the International Fund Sport Disabled, supporting the future of the paralympic movement in the 1980s."