The 2004 Summer Paralympics were held in Athens, Greece, from September 17 to September 28. The twelfth Paralympic Games, an estimated 4,000 athletes took part in the Athens programme, with ages ranging from 11 to 66. Paralympic events had already taken place during the 2004 Summer Olympics as demonstration sports - women's 800 m and men's 1500 m wheelchair races. These races were open to able-bodied people and were without disability classification - as such, they did not form part of the official Paralympic programme. See Wheelchair racing at the 2004 Summer Olympics for more details.
Athletes with learning difficulties were excluded from the games due to the difficulties in testing for and classifying these disabilities. The exclusion was introduced after the 2000 Summer Paralympics in Sydney, the first games with events exclusively for people with learning difficulties (and the second with such athletes), after it was found that the majority of the Spanish basketball team were not disabled. The International Paralympic Committee(IPC) stated that the exclusion would continue until there are sufficient tests for the disabilities and a way to measure the effect they have on a sport. Exhibition matches for these categories were featured in the Games in basketball and table tennis, and theSpecial Olympics remains the major sporting event specifically designed for athletes with learning difficulties.