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What are the Special Olympics?

The Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports movement for people with intellectual and multiple disabilities, and is officially recognised by the International Olympic Committee. The Special Olympics is represented worldwide by 5.2 million athletes in 174 countries.

Woman with child

The Special Olympics was founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, one of John F. Kennedy’s sisters, who spent her whole life in the struggle for more rights and acceptance for people with intellectual disabilities. The highpoint is the biannual Special Olympics World Games. The organisation supports people with intellectual disabilities worldwide with programs that develop health, education and qualifications.

Special Olympics Germany (SOG) is the German organisation of this movement, which pursues clearly formulated strategic targets with regard to inclusion. As a result, it is a respected interlocutor in societal discussion and in the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

People at the award ceremony

The aim of the Special Olympics is to use sport to help people with intellectual disabilities to gain more recognition, self-confidence and ultimately, to participate more in society. More than 40,000 athletes belong to Special Olympics Germany (SOG). 356 of these athletes will be competing in 23 sports at the World Games. And we’ll be up close to the action.

People running

Special Olympics – more than just sport

One example of inclusion in practice is Unified Sports®. In Unified, teams of people with and without disabilities participate in sport together, train and take part in competitions, learn from each other and at the same time remove barriers and limitations in their everyday lives with each other.

These programs are particularly important for people with intellectual disabilities, because they have a higher risk of additional health problems and often have worse health in general.

The Healthy Athletes® program in not just aimed at improving sporting performance. It helps athletes make assessments and communicate about their own health independently and to better recognise health risks. This will raise the awareness people with intellectual disabilities have of their health and improve access to health provision.

The Special Olympics Germany Academy is the competence centre for education and science. It provides a nationwide network of numerous experts from sport clubs, schools, organisations that provide services for the disabled and universities. These skills are used to drive forward sport for people with intellectual disabilities with the help of education and science, as well as to promote opportunities for people to take part themselves. An additional aim is implementing the rights set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities with the central aspect of self-determination.


Special Olympics

Burning torch in Berlin

Venues & schedule

The Special Olympics World Games 2023 in Berlin are taking place at locations all around the city. The main venues are in the Olympiapark and at Messe Berlin. You will find other venues and the exact schedule here.

Brandenburg Gate

The World Games program

A highly varied program will be provided throughout the World Games (17 to 25 June 2023). In addition to sport, culture hasn’t been forgotten. We’ve summarised the 5 highlights of the cultural program.

Any questions?

get in touch

Your contact person

Dr. Kai-Friedrich Donau

Kormoranweg 5
65201 Wiesbaden
Tel.: +49 611 9278-0
Your contact person

Jennifer Opitz

Kormoranweg 5
65201 Wiesbaden
Tel.: +49 611 9278-0