Special Olympics World Games

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Special Olympics World Games
2003 Special Olympics Opening Crowd.JPG
The crowd at the Special Olympics World Games Opening Ceremonies in Croke Park, Dublin, Ireland, 2003
Status active
Genre sporting event
Date(s) various
Frequency every fourth year
Country various
Inaugurated 1968 (1968) (summer)
1977 (1977) (winter)
The mascot for the Shanghai 2007 Special Olympics, displayed in Pudong in front of the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum.
File:Special Olympics World Summer Games Opening Ceremony and Parade of Athletes, with NBA legend Yao Ming.jpg
NBA basketball player Yao Ming walks with Special Olympics athletes and volunteers during the Opening Ceremony at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, China, 2007.

The Special Olympics World Games are an international sporting competition for athletes with intellectual disabilities, organized by Special Olympics.


Although local Special Olympics events and competitions are held around the world every day, the World Games are flagship events. The goal is to showcase the skills and accomplishments of people with intellectual disabilities on a global stage.[1] The World Games feature more than a week of competitions involving thousands of athletes. Through media coverage of the Games, the stories and achievements of children and adults with intellectual disabilities are made known to millions of people worldwide.[1]

Special Olympics World Games take place every two years and alternate between Summer and Winter Games, a schedule similar to the Olympics and Paralympics. Attracting as many as 350,000 volunteers and coaches, plus several thousands of athletes, these World Games can be the world's largest sporting event of the year.[1][2]

Special Olympics athletes can compete in 32 Olympic-style summer or winter sports. The athletes are adults and children with intellectual disabilities who can range from gifted, world-class competitors to average athletes to those with limited physical ability. It's a fundamental rule of Special Olympics competitions that athletes are matched up according to their ability and age. This “divisioning” process is an effort to make every competition fair, competitive and exciting for athletes as well as fans.[3]


The first International Special Olympics Summer Games were held in Chicago, Illinois, US, in 1968, while the first International Special Olympics Winter Games were held in February 1977 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, US. In 1991, the name was officially changed from International Special Olympics Summer/Winter Games to Special Olympics World Summer/Winter Games.[4]

In 2011, Special Olympics World Summer Games were held on June 25 – July 4 in Athens, Greece, involving more than 6,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities from 170 countries.[2]

The most recent Special Olympics World Winter Games were held in PyeongChang, South Korea from Jan. 29 – Feb. 5, 2013. The Host Town program, in which families host Special Olympics athletes from around the world to help them acclimate to the host country and customs, began on Jan. 26, 2013.[5]

The most recent 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games were held in Los Angeles, California from July 25 – Aug. 2, 2015.[6] These games were be the first Special Olympics World Summer Games held in the United States in 16 years since the 1999 Summer Games held in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The next Winter Games will be the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Graz and Schladming in Styria, Austria. This marks a return: Salzburg and Schladming, Austria hosted the fifth Special Olympics World Winter Games in 1993. These were the first Special Olympics World Games held outside the United States.[7]


Special Olympics World Games hosts
Year Summer Special Olympics World Games Winter Special Olympics World Games
No. Host Date(s) No. Host Date(s)
1968 I United States Chicago, United States July 20 – August 3
1970 II United States Chicago, United States August 13 – 15
1972 III United States Los Angeles, United States August 13 – 18
1975 IV United States Mount Pleasant, United States August 8 – 13
1977 I United States Steamboat Springs, United States February 5 – 11
1979 V United States Brockport, United States August 8 – 13
1981 II United States Smugglers' Notch and Stowe, United States March 8 – 13
1983 VI United States Baton Rouge, United States July 12 – 18
1985 III United States Park City, United States March 24 – 29
1987 VII United States Notre Dame and South Bend, United States July 31 – August 1
1989 IV United States Lake Tahoe and Reno, United States April 1 – 8
1991 VIII United States Minneapolis and Saint Paul, United States July 19 – 27
1993 V Austria Salzburg and Schladming, Austria March 20 – 27
1995 IX United States New Haven, United States July 1 – 9
1997 VI Canada Collingwood and Toronto, Canada February 1 – 8
1999 X United States Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh, United States June 26 – July 4
2001 VII United States Anchorage, United States March 4 – 11
2003 XI Republic of Ireland Dublin, Ireland June 21 – 29
2005 VIII Japan Nagano, Japan February 26 – March 4
2007 XII China Shanghai, China October 2 – 11
2009 IX United States Boise, United States(1) February 6 – 13
2011 XIII Greece Athens, Greece June 25 – July 4
2013 X South Korea Pyeongchang, South Korea January 29 – February 5
2015 XIV United States Los Angeles, United States July 25 – August 2
2017 XI Austria Graz and Schladming, Austria March 14 – 25
2019 XV
1 Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, was originally selected to host the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games.[8] The city, however, later decided to withdraw from hosting, and Boise, Idaho, was selected to host the event instead.[9]

Official Summer Sports

See footnote[10]

Official Winter Sports

See footnote[10]

Recognized Sports

Demonstration Sports

Regional games

Asia Pacific Games

In 2013, Australia hosted the first ever Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games.[11]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Special Olympics: World Games Overview". specialolympics.org.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 http://www.athens2011.org/en/games_info.asp
  3. "Special Olympics: About Competitions Results Schedules". specialolympics.org.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Special Olympics: History of Special Olympics". specialolympics.org.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Welcome World Winter Games PyeongChang 2013". 2013sopoc.org. Retrieved 2012-08-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Special Olympics World Summer Games – Los Angeles 2015". La2015.org. Retrieved 2012-08-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Austria to host 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games. October 12, 2012. Special Olympics official website. Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  8. "2009 Special Olympics To Take Place In Sarajevo, Bosnia And Herzegovina". GamesBid.com. Retrieved 25 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. McLaughlin, Micah (June 14, 2006). "Special Olympics come to Idaho in 2009". The Arbiter. The Arbiter. Retrieved 25 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 Sports & Games. Special Olympics official website. Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  11. Asia Pacific Games / Newcastle 2013. Special Olympics official website. Retrieved 2014-06-21.

External links

uk:Special Olympics