Athletes advance to higher levels of competition by meeting established criteria in accordance with Special Olympics policies and procedures. Each sport has different criteria for advancement and guidelines for athlete participation. Read through our sports to learn about each.

All competitions must be conducted according to the Special Olympics Sports Rules and the National Governing Bodies.

Area Events

Area events are where the majority of athletes compete throughout the year.

Sectional Events

Sectional events are conducted as qualifiers in order to meet the criteria for athletes to advance to Chapter-level competition.

State Events

These events showcase the skills and accomplishments of Special Olympics athletes, and, therefore athletes must be well-trained. Special Olympics New Jersey conducts four major state-wide events annually that correspond to each of our four sports seasons.

USA Games

The USA Games are offered every four years. Each chapter in the United States sends a delegation. The most recent Special Olympics USA Games were held June 5-12, 2022 in Orlando, Florida and the next games will be held in Minnesota in 2026.

World Games

The World Games are offered every two years on an alternating World Winter Games and World Summer Games basis. The United States Chapters (states) are represented as Special Olympics USA. The most recent Special Olympics World Games were held in Adu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on March 14-21, 2019.