General Rules Quick Guide

The General Rules provide the rules and guidelines for all our activities and bind us to our purpose, mission and goals. Below you will find quick links to each of the Articles in the Special Olympics Official General Rules – a summary of the Articles is also available as a PDF download.   


Outlines our purpose, values, relationship with the International Olympic Committee, United States Olympic Committee, National Olympic Committees, International Sports Federations, National Sports Governing Bodies, the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation, the United Nations and other key organizations.

Article 1

Special Olympics’ mission, goal and founding principles are contained in this Article. Read Article 1 ››

Article 2

Rules relating to Special Olympics’ athletes are found in this article, including eligibility, registration, release forms, medical examinations required to participate and counting and reporting athlete participation throughout the world. Read Article 2 ››

Article 3

Rules relating to sports, training and competition are found in this article, including the founding objectives of Special Olympics, the range of programming offered, public education and promotion, volunteer and family involvement.  Conduct of SOI-sanctioned Games is also covered. Read Article 3 ››

Article 4

How SOI governs the Special Olympics Movement. Included are SOI’s authority and responsibility, communications with SOI, SOI’s Board, the authority of SOI executives, International Advisory Committee members to the SOI Board, Regional Leadership Councils and other advisory committees. SOI’s exclusive authority over broadcasting matters and protection of trademarks is included. Read Article 4 ››

Article 5

The requirements for governance structures and the operation of Accredited Programs are covered in this article as are permitted names, jurisdictional limitations, growth requirements, contracts with third parties, and the use of SO trademarks. Also covered are rules relating to compliance with certain policies, such as SOI’s alcohol and tobacco policy, voluntary standards for charities and codes of conduct. Read Article 5 ››

Article 6

This article covers accreditation: the purpose, rights and obligations, applications, standards, duration, SOI’s authority to grant and revoke accreditation (sanctions), the process that SOI and Programs must follow when revocation proceedings are commenced, appeals and the effect of termination. Read Article 6 ››

Article 7

The rules of fund-raising and development are covered in this article. Included are those matters that fall under SOI’s exclusive authority and those that are in the Accredited Programs’ domain, including Programs’ responsibilities. Sponsor recognition requirements, GOCs fund-raising obligations and reporting obligations are included in this section.  Read Article 7 ››

Article 8

The standards for financial management, including budgets and audits, are covered in this article. Read Article 8 ››

Article 9

The rules for interpretation of the General Rules are covered in this article.

Read Article 9 ››

Article 10

Definitions for key words and phrases used in the General Rules are in this article. Read Article 10 ››

Supplement to the General Rules: US specific rules

Rules that apply specifically to Programs in the United States are contained in this supplement. The article order follows the General Rules order. Read Supplement ››