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Special Olympics
Special Olympics logo.svg
Founded July 20, 1968; 53 years ago (1968-07-20)
Founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver
Origins Camp Shriver
Area served
Official language
and the host country's official language when necessary
Key people
Timothy Shriver (Chairman of the Board)
Mary Davis (Chief Executive Officer)
William P. Alford (Lead Director & Vice Chair)
Angelo Moratti (Vice Chair)
Loretta Claiborne (Vice Chair)
Michelle Kwan (Treasurer)
Special Olympian Diona Bell dashes by a group of U.S. Airmen to win the gold medal in the 100-meter run at the Mississippi Special Olympics Summer Games, hosted by Keesler Air Force Base (AFB) in Biloxi, Miss. 110514-F-BD983-011
Diona Bell winning the gold medal in the 100-meter run at the Mississippi Special Olympics Summer Games, 2011
2003 Special Olympics Opening Crowd
The crowd at the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games Opening Ceremonies in Croke Park, Dublin, Ireland.

Special Olympics is the world's largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities, providing year-round training and activities to 5 million participants and Unified Sports partners in 172 countries. Special Olympics competitions are held every day, all around the world—including local, national and regional competitions, adding up to more than 100,000 events a year. Like the International Paralympic Committee, the Special Olympics organization is recognized by the International Olympic Committee; however, unlike the Paralympic Games, Special Olympics World Games are not held in the same year or in conjunction with the Olympic Games.

The Special Olympics World Games is a major event put on by the Special Olympics. The World Games alternate between summer and winter games, in two-year cycles, recurring every fourth year. The first games were held on July 20, 1968 in Chicago, Illinois, with about 1000 athletes from the U.S. and Canada. At those first games, honorary event chair Eunice Kennedy Shriver announced the formation of the Special Olympics organization. International participation expanded in subsequent games. In 2003, the first summer games held outside the United States were in Dublin, Ireland with 7000 athletes from 150 countries. The most recent World Summer Games were held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates from March 14 to 21 2019. This was the first Special Olympics World Games to be held in the Middle East. The next World Summer Games will be held in Berlin, Germany between June 16 to 25 2023. This will be the first time that Germany has ever hosted the Special Olympics World Games.

The first World Winter Games were held in 1977 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Austria hosted the first Winter Games outside the United States in 1993. The most recent Special Olympics World Winter Games were held in Graz, Schladming and Ramsau, Austria from March 14, 2017 to March 25, 2017 (see also 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games). During the World Winter Games of 2013 in Pyeongchang, South Korea the first Special Olympics Global Development Summit was held on "Ending the Cycle of Poverty and Exclusion for People with Intellectual Disabilities," gathering government officials, activists and business leaders from around the world. The next World Winter Games will be held in Åre and Östersund, Sweden between February 2 to 13 2021. This will be the first time that Sweden has hosted the Special Olympics. The next Special Olympics Summer games will be take place in Berlin, German between June 16 and 25 2023.

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