Who can be an Athlete?

Special Olympics PEI, Athlete Smiling Outside

To be eligible for Special Olympics, participants must have an intellectual disability, a cognitive delay, or a developmental disability.

Who can be a Special Olympics athlete?

As outlined by Special Olympics Canada, an individual is considered to have an intellectual disability based on the following three criteria:

  • Intellectual functioning level (IQ) is below 70-75;
  • Significant limitations exist in 2 or more adaptive skill areas; and
  • The condition manifests itself before the age of 18.


Overall, Special Olympics PEI airs on the side of inclusion should eligibility be questioned. For more information on athlete eligibility please review the Athlete Eligibility Overview, or give our office a call at 902-368-8919.


What about physical disabilities?

The primary focus of Special Olympics is to enrich the lives of individuals with an intellectual disability through sport. Focus on intellectual disability is what differentiates Special Olympics from Paralympics, which serves individuals with physical disabilities. The International Olympic Committee recognizes Special Olympics and Paralympics as two separate and distinct sport organizations that meet the needs of two separate communities of athletes.

How much athletic skill or experience is needed?

Athletes of all ability levels are encouraged to participate in Special Olympics programs. Through the use of equitable divisioning competitions are structured so that athletes compete with other athletes of similar abilities. Please visit our Divisioning page to learn more. Additionally, we invite you to explore our Special Olympics Programs pages to learn more about all the participation options available.

Is there a minimum age to participate?

Each Special Olympics program has specific age guidelines, depending on the type of activity. Community based programs offer athletes the programs necessary to develop important skills required in sport and everyday life. You can start as early as two years of age, but you are never 'too old' to start! Active Start and FUNdamentals are innovative play programs for children with intellectual disabilities that focus on physical literacy and basic motor skills development. Active Start and FUNdamentals are open to children between the ages of 2 and 12.

Athletes should be 13 years of age to participate in our competitive programs, and must be 13 years old to compete. For more information about age requirements, and help with finding age appropriate programs, please call the Special Olympics PEI office at 902-368-8919.

Are there any other requirements for participation?

Participants must agree to the Sport Rules of Special Olympics Canada.