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Goalball is one of the two Paralympic sports that do not have an Olympic counterpart, the other being boccia. Goalball is a team sport that was specially designed for the visually impaired and blind and was invented in 1946 for veterans of the second world war who had lost their sight. Men’s goalball made its Paralympic debut 30 years later, whereas women’s goalball first appeared at the 1984 Games. 

Alternating between attacking and defending, goalball players must engage their whole body to block powerful attacks of their opponents. Their exciting performance makes matches particularly captivating to watch. 

Brief overview of the rules 

Goalball is played by two teams of three players on the same size court as in volleyball (18m long and 9m wide). The attacking team tries to score by rolling a ball containing internal bells at speed along the floor towards the opposite goal defended by their opponents. Tactile markings help players determine where they are. The ball must bounce at least once in the thrower’s landing area for the shot to be counted. Players lie down in front of their own goal to block the ball. The net stretches across the whole width of the floor (9m) making it especially difficult to defend. They take turns attacking and defending. 

Goalball is an intense sport and each game is divided into two 12-minute halves. Much like in blind football, spectators must remain silent during play so that players can hear the ball.

Eligible impairments 

Played by athletes with a vision impairment. All players wear eyeshades, to ensure fair competition.


Letter and number: B1, B2, B3

Further information about paralympic classification

Events in 2024

The goalball events will take place between the 29th of August and the 5th of September.

  • Men’s 8-team tournament
  • Women’s 8-team tournament

Venue in 2024

International Federation

International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA)

© Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images

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