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.

  • Our Mission

    Special Olympics transforms lives through the joy of sport, every day, everywhere. We are the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities: with more than 4.7 million athletes in 169 countries -- and over a million volunteers.

    Cyclists from Syria and Iran compete at Middle East-North Africa regional games in Cairo, Egypt.

  • Our Mission

    Special Olympics transforms lives through the joy of sport, every day, everywhere. We are the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities: with more than 4.7 million athletes in 169 countries -- and over a million volunteers.

    Special Olympics athlete Travis Jackson is interviewed by ESPN after playing in a unified basketball game with NBA and WNBA stars.

  • Our Mission

    Special Olympics transforms lives through the joy of sport, every day, everywhere. We are the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities: with more than 4.7 million athletes in 169 countries -- and over a million volunteers.

    Special Olympics has performed over 1.6 million free health examinations for our athletes, opening a door to health care many with intellectual disabilities find hard or impossible to access.

  • Our Mission

    Special Olympics transforms lives through the joy of sport, every day, everywhere. We are the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities: with more than 4.7 million athletes in 169 countries -- and over a million volunteers.

    Volunteers from Mattel are among the many people involved with our Young Athletes program, which gives kids 2 to 7 years old an introduction to sports and play.

Our Mission

The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. This gives them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

Five Decades of Empowerment

The Special Olympics mission remains as vital today as it did when the movement was founded in 1968. Special Olympics strives to create a better world by fostering the acceptance and inclusion of all people.

Through the power of sports, people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success. Our athletes find joy, confidence and fulfillment -- on the playing field and in life. They also inspire people in their communities and elsewhere to open their hearts to a wider world of human talents and potential.

There are as many as 200 million people with intellectual disabilities around the world. Our goal is to reach out to every one of them – and their families as well. Special Olympics does this through a wide range of trainings, competitions, health screenings and fund-raising events. We also create opportunities for families, community members, local leaders, businesses, law enforcement, celebrities, dignitaries and others to band together to change attitudes and support athletes.
Special Olympics transforms lives every day, everywhere. This short video is an overview of Special Olympics, its history and major programs – and how, through the power and joy of sports, Special Olympics is creating a world of inclusion and respect – one athlete, one volunteer, one doctor, one teacher at a time.

The Power to Transform Lives

The transformative power of sports to instill confidence, improve health and inspire a sense of competition is at the core of what Special Olympics does. From the detailed coaching guides we provide in many languages to the sharp-eyed officials at our international games, the focus is on real sports, real competition, real achievements.

In Special Olympics, the power and joy of sport, shifts focus to what our athletes CAN do, not what they can't. Attention to disabilities fades away. Instead, we see our athletes' talents and abilities -- and applaud them for all that they can do. And they are doing a lot -- from gymnastics to soccer to open-water swimming. With our 30-plus Olympic-style sports, we offer adults and children with intellectual disabilities many ways to be involved in their communities, many ways to show who they really are.

About Intellectual Disability

Special Olympics is a global movement of people who want to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. But what are intellectual disabilities? LEARN MORE