Special Olympics World Games
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The most recent 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games were held in Los Angeles, California from July 25 – Aug. 2, 2015. 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.
|Year||Summer Special Olympics World Games||Winter Special Olympics World Games|
|1968||I||Chicago, United States||July 20 – August 3|
|1970||II||Chicago, United States||August 13 – 15|
|1972||III||Los Angeles, United States||August 13 – 18|
|1975||IV||Mount Pleasant, United States||August 8 – 13|
|1977||I||Steamboat Springs, United States||February 5 – 11|
|1979||V||Brockport, United States||August 8 – 13|
|1981||II||Smugglers' Notch and Stowe, United States||March 8 – 13|
|1983||VI||Baton Rouge, United States||July 12 – 18|
|1985||III||Park City, United States||March 24 – 29|
|1987||VII||Notre Dame and South Bend, United States||July 31 – August 1|
|1989||IV||Lake Tahoe and Reno, United States||April 1 – 8|
|1991||VIII||Minneapolis and Saint Paul, United States||July 19 – 27|
|1993||V||Salzburg and Schladming, Austria||March 20 – 27|
|1995||IX||New Haven, United States||July 1 – 9|
|1997||VI||Collingwood and Toronto, Canada||February 1 – 8|
|1999||X||Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh, United States||June 26 – July 4|
|2001||VII||Anchorage, United States||March 4 – 11|
|2003||XI||Dublin, Ireland||June 21 – 29|
|2005||VIII||Nagano, Japan||February 26 – March 4|
|2007||XII||Shanghai, China||October 2 – 11|
|2009||IX||Boise, United States(1)||February 6 – 13|
|2011||XIII||Athens, Greece||June 25 – July 4|
|2013||X||Pyeongchang, South Korea||January 29 – February 5|
|2015||XIV||Los Angeles, United States||July 25 – August 2|
|2017||XI||Graz and Schladming, Austria||March 14 – 25|
Official Summer Sports
- See footnote
Official Winter Sports
- See footnote
- Alpine Skiing
- Cross-country skiing
- Figure Skating
- Floor Hockey
- Short track speed skating
Asia Pacific Games
In 2013, Australia hosted the first ever Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games.
- Ancient Olympic Games
- Flame of Hope (Special Olympics)
- Camp Shriver
- Special Olympics USA National Games
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