The National Games

Few sporting events can match the social and emotional impact of the Special Olympics Australia National Games. Every four years, hundreds of athletes with an intellectual disability from all over Australia demonstrate their skills and sportsmanship at the Special Olympics Australia National Games, the flagship event of Special Olympics Australia.

For athletes it’s the culmination of years of regular and dedicated training.
For families it inspires hope for a future.
For volunteers it provides a joyous outlet for their generosity.
For media and supporters it celebrates achievement over adversity.
For sponsors it showcases corporate social responsibility and diversity strategies to engaged and potentially new audiences.

History of the National Games

The 2018 Special Olympics Australia National Games in Adelaide will be the 11th National Games. The first National Games were held in Launceston, Tasmania from 21-22 November 1986 where 200 athletes from Australia and New Zealand competed in aquatics, athletics, football (indoor soccer) and gymnastics. The previous host cities of the National Games are:

1986 Launceston, Tasmania
1988 Sydney, NSW
1990 Melbourne, VIC
1992 Brisbane, Queensland
1994 Perth, WA
1998 Hobart, Tasmania
2002 Sydney, NSW
2006 Gold Coast, Queensland
2010 Adelaide, SA
2014 Melbourne, VIC

Special Olympics Australia

Special Olympics Australia provides weekly sports training and regular competition for people with an intellectual disability, giving them opportunities to reach their personal best in sport and life.

Despite what many people think, we’re not the Paralympics. The Paralympics is for elite athletes, mainly with physical disability. Special Olympics is for people with intellectual disability.

At Special Olympics Australia everyone with an intellectual disability is welcome. Some participants join to have fun, make friends and enjoy the warmth of a welcoming community, while others are focussed on winning and receiving medals.

We’re not just a major sports event. Special Olympics provides year-round sports training in multiple sports as well as competition at local, state, national and international level. The pinnacle of our competition ladder is the World Games which is hosted on a four-year cycle in summer and winter sports. We also provide health and leadership programs.

Almost 600,000 Australians have an intellectual disability. They are the largest disability population in the country and the world, and in Australia another child is diagnosed with an intellectual disability every two hours.

People with intellectual disability can learn new skills and can accomplish goals. They just learn differently, or need more time or support to succeed.

Our focus is to make ability visible. Unlike physical disability, intellectual disability is sometimes invisible.