Sport for people with intellectual disability

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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.

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

Trans Tasman Tournament 2016

From 25-27 November 2016, 120 Australian athletes with an intellectual disability represented their state/territory in Hamilton, New Zealand.

See results or view photos

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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


  • 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. 
  • 30 November 2016 | Athletes from across Australia have returned home after representing their states in athletics and swimming in Hamilton, New Zealand at the Trans Tasman Tournament. Click here to view all the highlights.
  • 30 September 2016 | Welcome to our new website. We’ve got a little more tinkering to do so if you find something that’s incorrect or not working please let us know by emailing
  • 10 September 2016 | Meet the talented finalists for the 2017 EKS Award which is presented annually to recognise an athlete leader. The winner will be announced on EKS Day on 24 September.

Principal Partner