London 2012 marks new ties between Paralympics and Special Olympics
Did you know 120 athletes with intellectual disabilities have qualified for London 2012 Paralympics competing in track & field, aquatics and table tennis.
It was nearly 25 years ago when the IOC first recognized Special Olympics with a Protocol of Agreement during the 1988 Winter Olympics. In 2009, the IPC membership voted to include athletes with intellectual disability in competitions, including the Paralympics, starting with the 2012 London Summer Games. This reversed a decision made for the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games to exclude athletes with intellectual disabilities from the Paralympics and other IPC sanctioned competitions.
People often ask the question “What is the difference between Special Olympics and Paralympics?”
Special Olympics, the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee are complementary organizations, each one a testimony to the power of sport. As Tim Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics International puts it: “We are both trying to use the power of sport to change the way the world sees people who have differences”
Each is a pillar of the Olympic movement charged with fulfilling the Olympic vision in a distinct way.
Special Olympics welcomes all athletes with intellectual disabilities (age 8 and above) of all ability levels to train and compete in 32 Olympics-type sports.
Paralympics welcomes athletes from six main disability categories: amputees, cerebal palsy, intellectual disabilities, visually impaired, spinal injuries and Les Autres (French for "the others", a category that includes conditions that do not fall into the categories mentioned before). To participate in Paralympic Games athletes need to fulfill certain criteria and meet certain qualifying standards.
It is our sporting philosophy that differentiates us the most.
Special Olympics believes deeply in the power of sports to help all who participate to fulfil their potential and does not exclude any athlete based upon qualifying scores, but rather divisions the athletes based on those scores for fair competition against others of like ability.
For Special Olympics athletes’ excellence is personal achievement, a reflection of reaching one's maximum potential-- a goal to which everyone can aspire.
To participate in the Paralympic Games, athletes have to fulfil certain criteria and meet certain qualifying standards in order to be eligible.
These criteria and standards are sports-specific and are determined by the IPC Sports Chairpersons, the Sports Technical Delegates and the relevant international sports organizations. The Paralympics are about elite performance sport, where athletes go through a stringent qualification process so that the best, or highest qualified based on performance, can compete at the Games.