Competition Guidelines

All Special Olympics competitions are governed by official sports rules.

Special Olympics is an international sports organisation and its rules are based on the relevant International Sport Federation and National Governing Body rules.


The Divisioning process is the fundamental difference that sets Special Olympics apart from all other sports organisations.  Every athlete is recognised for their performance - medals are awarded to athletes who are placed first, second and third while athletes who are placed fourth to eighth are awarded with ribbons.


In general female athletes compete with females, male athletes compete with males. However there are exceptions, for example in tennis, table tennis and bowling all of which traditionally offer mixed competition events.


In doubles or team events, the oldest athlete on the team determines the age group.

Age Groups for Individual Sports   
Age Groups for Team Sports
8-11 years      16-21 years
12-15 years 22 years and over
16-21 years  
22-29 years  
30 years and over  

Ability is the overriding factor when creating a division. Generally divisions are created which will have a minimum of three teams of individuals and a maximum of eight. In exceptional circumstances, where there are an insufficient number of athletes to reach the minimum number, a one or two person division may occur.

Full details of Special Olympics Competition Guidelines here 

Athlete Lighting the Olympic Flame Banner

Competition Timetable

The complete Competition Timetable is available here

Contact Details

Special Olympics Games Office
Innovation Works
National Technology Park

1850 555 222