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Athletic training and competition gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to demonstrate to the world all they are capable of achieving. It provides a forum to compete not only in athletics but in life.

Special Olympics’ range of services, from motor activities programs to Unified Sports®, addresses the needs of individuals at their current functional level. It is a valuable support system that recognizes differences and celebrates accomplishments.


Anyone who is at least eight years of age* and who has been identified by an agency or professional as having intellectual disabilities or a closely related developmental disability is eligible to participate in Special Olympics training and competition.  In addition, athletes must agree to observe the rules of Special Olympics Incorporated (SOI) and the National and International Sports Federations.  Athletes who have physical disabilities but who do not have mental retardation are not eligible for Special Olympics.

Athletes who wish to participate in SOPA training and competition must first file an up-to-date Application for Participation (also known as a “medical”) with their coach. The coach will file this form with her local program, which in turn is responsible for filing the form with the SOPA office before the athlete may begin participation. The medical form is valid for up to three years from the date the doctor performed a physical, signed and dated the form.

*Anyone who is eligible for participation in Special Olympics as an athlete and is at least 6 years old may train but may not compete until eight years of age.


A simple application for participation that includes a medical and release form is required of each athlete. A physician must sign the form and the guardian of a minor or adult athlete signs the release form. Once these forms have been completed and are on file, an athlete can begin attending local practices in his/her preferred sport.

Interested in Joining?

To have an Athlete’s registration form sent to you, please contact us by email, phone or download the Application for Athlete Participation in Special Olympics.