Welcome To Special Olympics International!

We are a global organization with programs in 170 countries. This site may be customized by language and geographic region.

Unified Sports®

Team sports bring people together. Special Olympics Unified Sports® teams do that, too and much more. More than 1.2 million people worldwide take part in Unified Sports, breaking down stereotypes about people with intellectual disabilities in a really fun way. ESPN has served as the Global Presenting Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports since 2013, supporting the growth and expansion of this program that empowers individuals with and without intellectual disabilities to engage through the power of sports.

Promoting Social Inclusion Through Sport

Special Olympics is dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences. Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. 

In Unified Sports, teams are made up of people of similar age and ability. That makes practices more fun and games more challenging and exciting for all. Having sport in common is just one more way that preconceptions and false ideas are swept away. 

U.S. States Embracing Unified Sports

Young people with disabilities don't often get a chance to play on their school sports teams. More and more U.S. states are adopting the Unified Sports approach that Special Olympics pioneered.

Unified Sports is also an integral part of the Special Olympics Unified Strategy for Schools, which was founded in 2008 and funded through the U.S. Department of Education to use Special Olympics as a way to build inclusion and tolerance in schools. Unified Sports are now in more than 4300 middle and high schools in the United States.  Seventy percent of Unified Schools (Pre-K through Grade 12) are engaging in Unified Sports!  Also 215 US colleges and universities have Special Olympics clubs on campus, providing ongoing Unified and inclusionary activities for students and Special Olympics athletes.  73 of the 215 US colleges and universities activating Special Olympics College conduct ongoing Unified Sports on their campus.  Learn how to get involved, visit: www.playunified.org.

For almost 30 years, Special Olympics has offered sport teams that blend people with and without intellectual disabilities. That is a model that encourages sports and fun. It also gets people together to learn more about each other.

In addition to establishing support from ESPN, the 'Worldwide Leader in Sports', to become the Global Presenting Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports, additional support for Unified Sports in markets across the world has included support from partners including: Lions Club International, The Kim Samuel Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education and many more.

Our Partners

  • ESPN
  • U.S. Department of Education
  • Kim Samuel and the Samuel Family Foundation
  • Perfect Sense
  • Y&R
  • Burson-Marsteller
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • WWE
  • NBA
  • MLS Works
  • Uniqlo
  • Seiko
  • NFHS
  • EuroLeague
  • UEFA
  • FIFA Football for Hope
  • King Baudouin Foundation

Major sports organization, league and event support to Play Unified

Many high-profile, professional sports organizations and events have also showcased Unified Sports as a vehicle to show the power of inclusive sports!  This support includes:

National Basketball Association (NBA),

Major League Soccer (MLS),

Union of European Football Associations (UEFA),

National Collegiate Athletic Association, D-III,

ESPN's X Games Aspen,

National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) and

National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA). 


Unified Sports® Events

  • oct.
    Special Olympics Zimbabwe Unified Sports Training
    oct. 28, 2016
    08:30 AM - 03:30 PM
    Special Olympics Zimbabwe Unified Sports Training

    Join us 28 October at Midlands State University in Zvishavane, Midlands, Kenya as we offer our Unified Sports Training targeting the vibrant Leos Community at Midlands State University. For more details please use the contact information below.

    For more information
    Contact: Viola Musariri
    Email: sozimbabwedirector2@gmail.com
    Phone: +263772895904

    oct. 28, 2016
    08:30 AM - 03:30 PM
    Midlands State University (MSU)
    Zvishavane Campus
    Zvishavane, Midlands
  • oct.
    FP.West End Middle School Unified Softball
    oct. 28, 2016
    FP.West End Middle School Unified Softball

    This is an event for the Florida Parishes area. Male and female athletes and unified partners from the area will compete. To play, coach or volunteer for this event see your area contacts.

    For more information

    oct. 28, 2016
    Coquill Sports
    Covington, Louisiana
  • oct.
    Unified Basketball & Football
    oct. 28, 2016 - nov. 28, 2016
    Kigali- Rwanda
    Unified Basketball & Football

    To improve Athlete skills and confidence, creation of friendship with their teammate without discrimination based on intellectual disability. To show case family member of their talented & ability Athletes. To promote awareness about importance of unified sport in the community.

    For more information
    Contact: Benoit Nkurunziza
    Email: nkuruben2004@yahoo.fr
    Phone: 0781591891

    oct. 28, 2016 - nov. 28, 2016
    Rulindo District- Northern Province
    P.0 . Box 4878,
    Kigali- Rwanda, Northern Province
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