Special Olympics World Games are held in summer and winter sports, alternating every two years. The next World Winter Games is TBA, and the next World Summer Games will be in 2023 in Berlin, Germany.
At World Games, Minnesota is part of the larger Team USA delegation and only selects athletes to represent our state. (Coaches are chosen through an application handled by Team USA management.) The timeline and selection process are fairly standard, but involve many steps and different levels of the Special Olympics organization.
Two years in advance
The host country decides which sports and and how many athletes it can accommodate. Special Olympics Minnesota requests “quota” (sports and number of athletes) based on various factors. We consider participation levels, when sports were last represented, and financial resources.
One to two years in advance
States learn what their quota allocation will be, including sports, number of athletes, gender and sometimes ability level. Special Olympics Minnesota then selects who will represent them.
Eligible athletes are told about the opportunity by their Heads of Delegation. They’re usually required to earn a gold medal in a qualifying event, which is typically held at a state competition one year before World Games. They fill out application forms with specific instructions and deadlines. Once the process is complete, Special Olympics Minnesota staff follow up with all applicants.
The final athlete list is determined by a random draw from all athletes who applied and met the qualifications.
Year leading into World Games
Athletes commit to a training program outlined by their World Games coach and attend the state competition for their sport.