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Athlete Eligibility

Special Olympics training and competition is open to every person who:

  • Is at least eight years of age,
  • Has registered to participate in Special Olympics by completing the Special Olympics Virginia Registration, Release and Medical form, and
  • Is identified by an agency or professional as having:
  • an intellectual disability or
  • a cognitive delay, as determined by standardized measures or
  • a closely related developmental disability, which means having functional limitations in both general learning and in adaptive skills (such as in recreation, work, independent living, self-direction, or self-care).

Persons whose functional limitations are based solely on a physical, behavioral, emotional, specific learning, or sensory disability are not eligible to participate as Special Olympics athletes. However, these individuals may be eligible to participate as Special Olympics Unified Sports® Partners.

Participation in Special Olympics training and competition is open to all persons with an intellectual disability, a cognitive delay or a closely related developmental disability who meet the age requirements regardless of how mild or severe the person’s disability, and whether or not that person also has other mental or physical disabilities.

Children age 2 - 7 may participate in the Special Olympics Young Athletes program. Young Athletes is an innovative sports play program that consists of a series of developmentally appropriate activities designed specifically for young children. The program seeks to strengthen physical development and self-esteem for children by building skills for future sports participation and socialization prior to Special Olympics competition eligibility. Young Athletes participants may not participate in Special Olympics competition or be awarded medals or ribbons associated with competition. Young Athletes participants may be recognized for their participation through certificates or ribbons of participation.

There is no maximum age for participation in Special Olympics.
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Ready to sign up?

Participation in Special Olympics Virginia requires athletes to obtain a physical from a medical professional and fill out the Athlete Registration, Medical, and Release Form every three years. If an athlete does not sign for themselves then a Parent/Guardian Release Form must be completed.