What are the Special Olympics?
The Special Olympics are a series of international programmes of year-round sports training and competitions for children and adults with learning difficulties, giving them continuing opportunities to realise their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy and friendship.
It started in June 1962 when Eunice Kennedy Shriver held a summer day camp at her home in Maryland. This led to the first international Special Olympic Games in Chicago in 1968 and subsequently the first World Winter Games in Colorado in 1977. The games are now held every two years.
In 1971 the US Olympic committee gave the Special Olympics official permission to use the word “Olympics”. This was then endorsed globally by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1988.
Currently, nearly 3.5million athletes of all ages worldwide are involved in sports training and competitions in over 170 countries under the Special Olympics banner.
The next World Summer Games will take place in June 2011 in Athens, Greece and the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2013.
See the following links for figure skating and speed skating as a Special Olympic sport.