Sport for people with intellectual disability

1300 225 762

For 40 years we have brought people with intellectual disability together with passionate volunteers to participate in weekly sports training, regular competition, fun and friendship.

Despite what many people think, we’re not the Paralympics. The Paralympics is for elite athletes, mainly with physical disability. Special Olympics is for people with intellectual disability.

At Special Olympics Australia everyone with an intellectual disability is welcome. Some participants join to have fun, make friends and enjoy the warmth of a welcoming community, while others are focussed on winning and receiving medals.

We’re not just a major sports event. Special Olympics provides year-round sports training in multiple sports as well as competition at local, state, national and international level. The pinnacle of our competition ladder is the World Games which is hosted on a four-year cycle in summer and winter sports. We also provide health and leadership programs.

Almost 600,000 Australians have an intellectual disability. They are the largest disability population in the country and the world, and in Australia another child is diagnosed with an intellectual disability every two hours.

People with intellectual disability can learn new skills and can accomplish goals. They just learn differently, or need more time or support to succeed.

Our focus is to make ability visible. Unlike physical disability, intellectual disability is sometimes invisible.

Junior National Games

From 3-7 July 2017, 200 athletes aged 8-15 will compete on the Gold Coast at the fourth Special Olympics Australia Junior National Games.

Find out more

National Games 2018

From 16-20 April 2018 1,000 athletes with intellectual disability will compete in 11 sports at the Special Olympics Australia National Games in Adelaide.

Find out more

Dream Ride

View all the highlights of the the inaugural Dream Ride held on 4 December 2016 which showcased and supported athletes with an intellectual disability.

View highlights

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the Joy

Through sport we allow people with an intellectual disability to demonstrate what they can do, rather what people think they can’t. Our logo tells the story of how this makes them feel:

The figure with arms limply by their side represents a person with an intellectual disability facing challenges and isolation before joining Special Olympics Australia.

The figure with arms outstretched represents a new athlete discovering their skills and gaining confidence in their ability.

The figure with arms raised in joy represents an athlete celebrating their talents and proudly receiving the applause of families, friends and fans.

The “globe of figures” represents our worldwide sporting community that values people with intellectual disability, supports their goals and celebrates their achievements.

Feel the

Athletes get fit, have fun, make friends and develop confidence through sport.

Families gain a network of support that helps them understand what’s possible which inspires hope for the future.

The public open their hearts and minds to people with an intellectual disability when they get to know them and this helps build inclusive communities.

Inclusive communities have a respect for diversity.

Corporate partners can demonstrate social responsibility, diversity, inclusion and volunteering strategies in action.

Schools and disability service providers can get their clients fit for life through tailored programs.


Be part of the glitz and glamour of a Special Olympics Australia fundraising event in 2017. We have something for all tastes and interests!


Keep in touch


  • 13 April 2017 | Next week ten Aussie golfers and four officials will head to Macau for the sixth edition of the Special Olympics Macau Golf Masters. They will compete from 17-21 April in the world's biggest golf tournament for people with an intellectual disability. Meet the team.
  • 27 March 2017 | Congratulations Team Australia who today arrive home from the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria where they wore the green and gold with pride, bringing home 10 medals and 14 place ribbons. Find out more about their achievements on our World Winter Games page.
  • 20 February 2017 | Well done to our 2016 EKS Award winners, Nicole Bartley and Martin Smith from Queensland. Named after the found of Special Olympics, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the award is presented annually to an athlete who has shown great leadership skills, both on and off the sporting field. Find out more.
  • 14 January 2017 | Communications managers from Special Olympics programs throughout Asia Pacific gathered in Singapore this week for a series of training workshops covering media relations, social media, photography and much more. View photos.
  • 4 January 2017 | Welcome back to another exciting year of sports training and competition with Special Olympics Australia! We have an exciting year ahead with our largest ever wintersports team competing in Austria at the World Winter Games in March and the Junior National Games on the Gold Coast in July.

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