Special Olympics
World Games

Summer Sports
Winter Sports

In June 1962, Eunice Kennedy Shriver started a day camp, known as Camp Shriver, for children with intellectual disabilities at her home in Potomac, Maryland. She started this camp because she was concerned about disabled children with nowhere to play. Using Camp Shriver as an example, Shriver promoted the concept of involvement in physical activity and competition opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. Camp Shriver became an annual event, and the Kennedy Foundation (of which Shriver was executive vice president) gave grants to universities, recreation departments and community centers to hold similar camps.

The first International Special Olympics Summer Games were held at Soldier Field in Chicago in 1968. Anne McGlone Burke, a physical education teacher with the Chicago Park District, began with the idea for a one-time Olympic-style athletic competition for people with special needs. Burke then approached Eunice Kennedy Shriver, head of the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation, to fund the event. Shriver encouraged Burke to expand on the idea and the JPK Foundation provided a grant of $25,000. More than 1,000 athletes from across the United States and Canada participated. At the July 1968 games, Shriver announced the formation of Special Olympics.

Special Olympics has grown into the world's largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, providing year-round training and competitions to more than 4 million athletes in 170 countries. Special Olympics competitions are held every day, all around the world—including local, national and regional competitions, adding up to more than 53,000 events a year.

World Games

These competitions include the Special Olympics World Games, which alternate between summer and winter games. Special Olympics World Games are held every two years. The Special Olympics World Games are often the largest sporting event to take place in the world during that year. The most recent World Summer Games were the Special Olympics World Summer Games, held in Athens, Greece, from June 25, 2011 to July 4, 2011. The most recent Special Olympics World Winter Games were held in Pyeongchang, South Korea from January 29 to February 5, 2013. 

The next World Summer Games will be held in 2015 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

The 2015 Los Angeles Games will bring the Special Olympics World Summer Games back to the United States after an absence of 16 years – for the first time since the 1999 Special Olympics Summer Games in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

LA 2015 is expected to draw 7,000 athletes from almost every one of our 170 countries. In addition, there will be 3,000 coaches, 30,000 volunteers and an estimated 500,000 spectators.

The next Winter Games will be the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Graz and Schladming in Styria, Austria. This marks a return to Austria which hosted the fifth Special Olympics World Winter Games in 1993.

Divisioning at Special Olympics:

Athletes in every sport and event are grouped by age, gender, and ability – giving everyone a reasonable chance to win. At Special Olympics there are no World Records because each athlete, whether in the fastest or the slowest division is valued and recognized equally. In every division, all athletes receive an award, from gold, silver, and bronze medals, to fourth through eighth place ribbons. This idea of equal ability groupings is the foundation for competition in Special Olympics and can be witnessed at all events, whether it’s athletics, aquatics, table tennis, football, skiing, or gymnastics. All athletes are given an equal chance to participate, perform, and be recognized for doing their best by their teammates, family, friends, and fans.

Summer Sports

The sports to be featured at Los Angeles are:

Aquatics Athletics Badminton
Basketball Bocce Bowling
Cycling Equestrian Sports Golf
Gymnastics Handball Judo
Kayaking Powerlifting Roller skating
Sailing Soccer 5/side Soccer 7/side
Soccer 11/side Softball Table tennis
Tennis Volleyball

Demonstration Sports

Beach Volleyball
Open Water Swimming

Return to top of page

Winter Sports

The sports featured in Korea, and that will probably feature in Austria are:

Alpine Skiing Cross-country skiing Figure skating
Floor Ball Floor hockey Snowboarding
Snowshoeing Speed skating
Return to top of page

Creative Commons licence text.

This work is a derivative of the Wikipedia page Special Olympics.

› Special Olympics