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Competitive Cheer and DanceSport Adopted as Recognized Sports of Special Olympics

Co-ed cheer team on the left comprised of 6 athletes. two dancers on the right, one male and one female; he's dressed in all white and she has on a white top and a flower print ankle length dress.

Washington, DC - 10 April 2019: At the Abu Dhabi 2019 Special Olympics World Games, the Special Olympics International Board of Directors voted to adopt DanceSport and Cheer as “recognized” sports of Special Olympics. DanceSport and Competitive Cheer have met the criteria for adoption to be classified as “recognized” sports in the Special Olympics Official General Rules. In order to become a “recognized” sport, at least 12 accredited Special Olympics national or state Programs across at least 2 of Special Olympics global Regions must have instituted it. To become “official” Special Olympics sports, Competitive Cheer and DanceSport will need to be instituted in 24 Programs in 3 Regions. Both sports have a set of Special Olympics rules based on the International Federation rules.

“We are pleased to have established partnerships with the World DanceSport Federation and the International Cheer Union to help develop these growing sports within Special Olympics,” said Jon-Paul St. Germain, Senior Director of Sport Partnerships and Unified Sports at Special Olympics. “We applaud these two international sport federations for their support of Special Olympics and recognizing that everyone in society benefits from the provision of inclusive sport opportunities for all.”

In addition to being at Special Olympics competitions, the International Cheer Union will offer competition for Special Olympics Competitive Cheer teams at their upcoming World Cheerleading Championships in Orlando, USA on 25 April. Athletes competed in both Cheer and Dance during the 2019 Special Olympics World Games that happened last month.

About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is a global inclusion movement using sport, health, education and leadership programs every day around the world to end discrimination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities. Founded in 1968, and celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 6 million athletes and Unified Sports partners in more than 190 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including Bank of America, the Christmas Records Trust, The Coca-Cola Company, ESPN, Essilor Vision Foundation, the Golisano Foundation, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, Lions Clubs International Foundation, Microsoft, Safilo Group, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, TOYOTA, United Airlines, and The Walt Disney Company. Click here for a full list of partners. Engage with us on: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and our blog on Medium. Learn more at

Media Contacts

Carolyn Phillips
Special Olympics
+1 202 824 0293

Mark Daley
Special Olympics
+1 202 824 0389