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Special Olympics

Special Olympics Australia provides:

  • year-round sports training and competition for children and adults with an intellectual disability regardless of their skill level
  • opportunities for athletes to participate at a local or state level right up to elite athletes who want to compete on a world stage
  • opportunities to get fit, develop skills, make friends and be part of a community
  • its program to 4500 athletes throughout Australia
  • 1000 volunteers to help with sports training and competition every week

The Special Olympics is not the same as the Paralympics

Special Olympics

  • only for people with an intellectual disability
  • welcomes all participants
  • year-round training and competition


  • mainly for athletes with physical disabilities
  • elite athletes only
  • holds 1 international competition every 4 years

The Special Olympics is the only organisation allowed by the International Olympic Committee to use the word 'Olympics'. For more information see Special Olympics and the Olympic Movement.

Special Olympics are also different from other Sports Organisations:

  • athletes are grouped by ability to provide fair competition
  • all athletes receive an award to recognise their achievement
  • athletes advance to higher levels of competition based on participation and achievement, not the fastest times or best results

In Australia there are twelve official sports:

  • Athletics
  • Basketball
  • Bocce
  • Cricket
  • Equestrian
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Sailing
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Tenpin bowling

Special Olympics Australia is part of a global movement:

  • an international not-for-profit organisation
  • established by Mrs Eunice Kennedy Shriver in the USA in 1968
  • established in Australia in 1976
  • open to athletes from 8-80 years
  • World Summer Games are held every 4 years
  • 2010 National Games in Adelaide, SA
  • 2011 Summer World Games in Athens, Greece

If you would like to find out more about the Special Olympics please visit