• Missouri 816-561-0304
    Missouri 816-561-0304
  • Kansas 913-871-4188
    Kansas 913-871-4188
  • St. Joseph 816-364-0900
    St. Joseph 816-364-0900

    Home Health Care



Paralympics Vs. Special Olympics – Quick Facts about the Differences and Similarities

Common misunderstandings surround the Olympics, Paralympics, and Special Olympics, leading to confusion, particularly regarding the latter two. Here, we aim to clarify key points for better comprehension.


Quick Facts: Paralympics


  • The Paralympics denotes the Paralympic Games, a quadrennial multi-sport event occurring in both Summer and Winter cycles.
  • Held concurrently with the Olympic Games, the term "para" signifies the parallel nature of the events, typically taking place about two weeks later.
  • Tokyo 2020 featured 28 Summer Sports in the Paralympic program.
  • Eligibility for Paralympic participation involves specific rules and classifications based on ten impairment types, including Vision Impairments, Intellectual Impairments, and various Physical Impairments.
  • Athletes must meet stringent criteria and qualify to compete, with the Paralympic Games hosting Para athletes, but only those who have participated are considered Paralympians.
  • Impairment types for eligibility encompass Vision Impairments, Intellectual Impairments, and various Physical Impairments such as impaired muscle power, limb deficiency, and short stature.


Quick Facts: Special Olympics


  • Special Olympics refers to an organization and sports system, not a single event.
  • Athletes participating in Special Olympics have an intellectual disability.
  • The organization spans various events at different levels, including local, regional, provincial/territorial, national, and global stages.
  • Special Olympics offers 29 Summer Sports, with 10 available in Canada.
  • The mandate of Special Olympics is to provide sports programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities, catering to recreational and competitive programs.
  • Special Olympics World Games occur every four years in both Summer and Winter cycles.
  • Special Olympics utilizes divisions, grouping athletes based on age, gender, and ability, without exclusion based on performance metrics such as distance or time.


Did You Know?


  • Athletes with Intellectual Impairments can participate in Athletics in both Para sport and Special Olympics streams.
  • In Para Athletics, athletes are typically referred to as those with an intellectual impairment, while Special Olympics uses the term "intellectual disability."
  • Athletes with an Intellectual Impairment must meet specific eligibility and classification requirements for the Paralympic pathway, which differ from Special Olympics where such requirements are not necessary.