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Sports Essentials

Sport Rules Article 1

The Official Special Olympics Sport Rules (“Sport Rules”) provide standards for Special Olympics training and competition. Sport Rules Article I provides general principles established by the Special Olympics Official General Rules (“General Rules”) that are not found in the sport-specific rules.
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Sport Rules Article 1

Sport Rules Article 1 2020:

Sport Rules Change Summary

Sport Classifications

The sports in which Special Olympics athletes are given the opportunity to train and compete are divided into four levels. Sports are recognized by the criteria listed below for each level. See the Sport Rules Classification Full Chart (PDF)

The Sport Rules Advisory Committee (SRAC) implement the new sport classifications due to the reasons outlined below.

  • To develop a meaningful sport development pathway resulting in automatic World Games inclusion for those sports at the highest level.
  • Enhancing criteria for achieving top level that is globally relevant based on data driven from census including additional info on numbers athletes/partners participating in a sport in addition to programs and regions.
  • Using Global Association of International Federations (GAISF) as vetting agency to ensure sport has supporting infrastructure for quality growth.
  • Establishing an incentive/reward for increased participation levels.
  • Flexibility for inclusion of sports at World Games which are strategically important to SOI or an LOC.
  • This replaces the current classifications which was purely a recognition of program participation levels but don’t guarantee inclusion in World Games as participation levels increase.

Each sport level will be re-evaluated based on Special Olympics’ census data on an annual basis.

Sport Rules Advisory Committee

The Sport Rules Advisory Committee (SRAC) is to conduct an on-going review of the Sport Rules and make recommendations to SOI concerning amendments to the Sport Rules.

The composition of the SRAC consists of members who are sports experts, and Sport Directors of Accredited Programs. For information on submitting sport rules, or the SRAC in general, please email

General Rules

The Special Olympics Official General Rules provide current and consolidated guidance to all accredited Special Olympics programs and Games Organizing Committees. The Special Olympics General Rules provides a set of values that guide actions and behavior in the implementation of the Special Olympics mission. The Mission Statement, Goal and Founding Principles of Special Olympics are outlined here.

Three image collage, one of a female golfer, one of a male weight lifter squatting, the third of a male bocce player. Three image collage, one of a female golfer, one of a male weight lifter squatting, the third of a male bocce player.

Sports & Coaching

For all of our recognized and official sports, find coaching guides, development models, photos and videos and other related materials. You can also find information on locally popular sports in the mix.