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World Events during Leap Year 2012

Three events that grab international attention coincide with the leap year of 2012. They are: the United States presidential election, the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games. Like most leap years, these events occur every four years.

World events during Leap Year 2008

Illustration based on artwork from ©iStockphoto.com/Juan Monino,Stephan Rothe, Oey Yu Kwok & Igor Smichkov

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US Presidential Election

The United States presidential election occurs on November 6, 2012. It is the 57th election for the president and vice-president of the United States. This election coincides with other elections within the United States, including the elections of many Senate seats and the House of Representatives' seats.

Held every four years, the presidential election involves extensive campaigns and media attention. In 2008, President Barack Obama was elected as the first African American president in United States history. The year 2008 was also the first time since 1928 that an election had neither a current president nor a current vice-president running for their party.

The first presidential election in the United States was held in 1789, when one of the nation’s “founding fathers” George Washington was voted as the country’s first president.

Olympic Games

The 2012 Olympic Summer Games are held in London, United Kingdom, from July 27 to August 12, 2012. A torch relay, which plays a symbolic and crucial role in celebrating the Olympic Games, marks the opening of the event.

Olympic athletes from different countries, such as Australia, China, Japan, South Africa and the United States, compete for medals in a wide range of sports. These sports include: athletics, aquatics, archery, boxing, gymnastics, judo, tennis, volleyball, and weight lifting.

History of the Modern Olympics

In 1894 Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee. Two years later, the first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens, Greece. The revival of the ancient Olympics attracted athletes from 14 nations, with delegations from countries including Germany and France.

Paralympic Games

London also hosts the Paralympic Summer Games, held from August 29 to September 9, 2012. The Paralympics are elite sport events for athletes from six different disability groups. Athletes include those with mobility disabilities, visual disabilities, cerebral palsy and amputees.

This event focuses on the athletes’ achievements rather than their disabilities. Paralympic sports include: archery, athletics, swimming, table tennis, and volleyball. The Paralympic Games are always held in the same year as the Olympic Games. From the 2012 onwards, the city chosen to host the Olympic Games must host the Paralympics.

History of the Paralympic Games

In 1948 German-born neurologist Sir Ludwig Guttmann organized a sports competition involving World War II veterans with spinal cord injuries in England. An international movement was born as a result of Guttmann’s efforts. In 1960 athletes with a disability travelled to Rome to compete in Olympic-style games, which are now known as the Paralympics. The Paralympics have proven to be increasingly popular over time. More than 4200 athletes from 148 countries competed in the Paralympics in Beijing, China, in 2008.