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Special Olympics Rules

The heart of Special Olympics is competitions, the races, matches, tournaments and games for people with intellectual disabilities. In many ways, these competitions are like sports run by any other organization, but there are some key differences.

Get Rules

See and download rules and rule changes for all of our official sports.

Special Olympics Rules are Adapted

Our rules are adapted to accommodate the wide range of skills and abilities of our athletes, all of whom have intellectual disabilities.

Special Olympics sports competitions operate in accordance with rules established by the International Federations (“IF’s”) or National Governing Bodies (“NGB's”) of each sport. The Official Special Olympics Sports Rules are intended to modify, where necessary, IF or NGB rules. In cases where IF or NGB rules are in conflict with the Official Special Olympics Sports Rules, the Official Special Olympics Sports Rules shall apply.

Each Accredited Program or Games Organizing Committee is required to state the governing body rules that will serve as the reference point for each sport offered. At Special Olympics Regional and World Games, the International Federation rules shall be used.