Special Olympics World Games
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Special Olympics World Games
Special Olympics World Games
2003 Special Olympics Opening Crowd.JPG
The crowd at the Special Olympics World Games Opening Ceremony in Croke Park, Dublin, Ireland, 2003
GenreSporting event
FrequencyEvery two years
Inaugurated1968 (1968) (summer)
1977 (1977) (winter)
The mascot for the 2007 Special Olympics World Games in Shanghai, displayed in Pudong in front of the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum.

The Special Olympics World Games are an international sporting competition for athletes with intellectual disabilities, organized by the IOC-recognised Special Olympics organisation.


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 6,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities from 170 countries.[2]

In 2013, the Special Olympics World Winter Games were held in PyeongChang, South Korea from Jan. 29 - Feb. 5.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]

In 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games .[6] These games were 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.

In 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Graz and Schladming in Styria, Austria. This marked 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. The 2017 World Winter Games were held on March 14-25, 2017.[7]

Kazan, Russia will host the next World Winter Games between, January 22-28 2022. Originally to be held in Åre and Östersund, Sweden however the Swedish Government withdrawn it hosting rights in December 2019 due to financial problems.[8]

The recent Special Olympics World Summer Games were held March 14-21, 2019 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. These were the first Special Olympics World Games to be held in the Middle East/North Africa region.[9] Competitions were held in 24 sports.

Berlin, Germany will host the next World Summer Games between June 16-25, 2023. It will mark the first time that Germany has ever hosted the Special Olympics World Games.[10]


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 1 United States Chicago, United States July 20 - August 3
1970 2 United States Chicago, United States August 13 - 15
1972 3 United States Los Angeles, United States August 13 - 18
1975 4 United States Mount Pleasant, United States August 8 - 13
1977 1 United States Steamboat Springs, United States February 5 - 11
1979 5 United States Brockport, United States August 8 - 13
1981 2 United States Smugglers' Notch and Stowe, United States March 8 - 13
1983 6 United States Baton Rouge, United States July 12 - 18
1985 3 United States Park City, United States March 24 - 29
1987 7 United States Notre Dame and South Bend, United States July 31 - August 1
1989 4 United States Lake Tahoe and Reno, United States April 1 - 8
1991 8 United States Minneapolis and Saint Paul, United States July 19 - 27
1993 5 Austria Salzburg and Schladming, Austria March 20 - 27
1995 9 United States New Haven, United States July 1 - 9
1997 6 Canada Collingwood and Toronto, Canada February 1 - 8
1999 10 United States Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh, United States June 26 - July 4
2001 7 United States Anchorage, United States March 4 - 11
2003 11 Republic of Ireland Dublin, Ireland June 21 - 29
2005 8 Japan Nagano, Japan February 26 - March 4
2007 12 China Shanghai, China October 2 - 11
2009 9 United States Boise, United States(1) February 6 - 13
2011 13 Greece Athens, Greece June 25 - July 4
2013 10 South Korea Pyeongchang, Korea January 29 - February 5
2015 14 United States Los Angeles, United States July 25 - August 2
2017 11 Austria Graz and Schladming, Austria March 14 - 25
2019 15 United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates March 14 - 21
2022 12 Russia Kazan, Russia (2) January 22 - 28
2023 16 Germany Berlin, Germany June 16 - 25
2025 13

1Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, was originally selected to host the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games.[11] Due to financial problems and the constant delay in reconstruction of the venues of the 1984 Winter Olympics, the city gave up hosting the Games, and Boise, Idaho,was invited to host the event.[12]

2 It was planned that Åre and Östersund, Sweden would host the 2021 World Winter Games between February 2 to 13, 2021.[13] However, on December 20, 2019, it was announced that the Swedish Paralympic Committee vetoed the necessary financing for the continuity of the event in the country,invalidating a promise made during the bid process, Special Olympics studied to delay the event to 2022 after the new host city can find with the little time for its realization. Kazan, Russia was invited to host the event on June 29, 2020.[14][15]

Official Summer Sports

See footnote[16]

Official Winter Sports

See footnote[16]

Recognized Sports

Demonstration Sports

  • Stick Shooting

Regional games

Asia Pacific Games

In 2013, Australia hosted the first ever Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games.[17]

Special Olympics European Games

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Special Olympics: World Games Overview". specialolympics.org.
  2. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-02-23. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Special Olympics: About Competitions Results Schedules". specialolympics.org.
  4. ^ "Special Olympics: History of Special Olympics". specialolympics.org.
  5. ^ "Welcome World Winter Games PyeongChang 2013". 2013sopoc.org. Archived from the original on 2012-08-17. Retrieved .
  6. ^ "2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games In Los Angeles 2015". La2015.org. Archived from the original on 2015-07-08. Retrieved .
  7. ^ Austria to host 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games. October 12, 2012. Special Olympics official website. Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  8. ^ "Special Olympics Selects Kazan, Russia to Host Landmark World Winter Games in 2022". Special Olympics.
  9. ^ http://www.abudhabi2019.org/
  10. ^ "Berlin, Germany selected to host the 2023 Special Olympics World Games". Special Olympics.
  11. ^ "2009 Special Olympics To Take Place In Sarajevo, Bosnia And Herzegovina". GamesBid.com. Retrieved 2015.
  12. ^ McLaughlin, Micah (June 14, 2006). "Special Olympics come to Idaho in 2009". The Arbiter. The Arbiter. Retrieved 2015.
  13. ^ "Sweden selected to host the 2021 Special Olympics World Winter Games". Special Olympics.
  14. ^ "New Location for 2021 World Winter Games". Special Olympics.
  15. ^ "Kazan to host Special Olympics World Winter Games in 2022". Inside the Games.
  16. ^ a b Sports & Games. Special Olympics official website. Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  17. ^ Asia Pacific Games / Newcastle 2013. Special Olympics official website. Retrieved 2014-06-21.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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