The World Games
Special Olympics World Games offer a world stage to showcase the Special Olympics movement and to celebrate the abilities and accomplishments of people with intellectual disabilities. In doing so, they foster a new global vision of acceptance. This picture shows the opening ceremony at the 2007 games in China.
The Special Olympics Flame of Hope was lit in Athens, Greece, to begin the Global Law Enforcement Torch Run before the 2009 World Winter Games. Law enforcement officers and Special Olympics athletes carry the flame on a three-month journey delivering the movement’s messages of hope, courage and inspiration to people around the world. In 2011, it's Athens' turn to be the destination.
Members of the Global Law Enforcement Torch Run team, including law enforcement officers and Special Olympics athletes, carry the Flame of Hope through the streets of Dubai during the 2009 Torch Run.
More than 100 countries are represented every two years at Special Olympics World Games. Athletes are able to compete against and build friendships with other athletes from countries across the globe. For more than a week these athletes come together to support a greater good.
Following the Olympic ideals, Special Olympics World Games are abundant in tradition. All World Games feature Opening and Closing Ceremonies, a Torch Run public awareness event prior to the Games, cultural activities, and world-class sports competition.
Ryan Hill of Special Olympics Ireland skied on 8 February at Bogus Basin in Boise, Idaho, during the 2009 World Winter Games. More than 2,000 athletes from almost 100 countries competed in seven Olympic-type sports.
A volunteer health-care professional holds up a mirror for Special Olympics athlete Ignacio Blanco as he tried on glasses at the Special Olympics-Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes venue.
Andreas Burtscher and Johanna Pramstaler of Special Olympics Austria embraced after winning bronze medals in the Intermediate Giant Slalom in the 2009 Winter Games.
Special Olympics Afghanistan Coach Abdul Karim Azizi talked with athlete Rabi Fazil before a floor hockey match against Special Olympics Austria during the 2009 games in Idaho.
Special Olympics Russia floor hockey players showed their team spirit as they left the court together after their first game against Special Olympics Canada in the Boise games.
Larissa Ramierz sat with Special Olympics Venezuela athletes Salomon Blasque, 24, and Andres Perez, 23, before the compulsory figure skating singles competition during the 2009 World Winter Games.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of Special Olympics, directed the first Special Olympics games in 1968. The Chicago games were the first large-scale Special Olympics event and set the pattern for the international competitions to follow on the Olympics model.
For one amazing week, athletes from around the world inspire and amaze thousands of spectators, friends and family. It was true at the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games and will be true in 2011 in Athens.
The colorful opening ceremony at the 2009 World Winter Games in Boise, Idaho.