Special Olympics celebrated its 50th Anniversary in style across the globe between 17 and 21 July. From ‘Light Up for Inclusion’ which turned landmarks across the world red to the inaugural Unified Cup presented by Toyota, the movement marked this very special birthday with an equally special programme of events!

The spark that became today’s Special Olympics movement ignited at the first 1968 International Summer Games in Chicago, Il., USA. Five decades later, we celebrated both in Chicago and across the world. The five days of festivities – part of a year-long anniversary celebration – honoured 50 years of joy, courage, empowerment and progress since the foundation of Special Olympics in 1968.

As part of the celebration, Special Olympics launched its challenge to people across the globe to join our Revolution is Inclusion campaign – an all-out effort, led by Special Olympics athletes, to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities (ID) and deliver a fully inclusive world.

The Revolution is Inclusion

The Special Olympics Revolution is Inclusion campaign – an all-out effort, led by Special Olympics athletes, to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities (ID) was launched as part of Special Olympics 50th Anniversary celebrations.

Special Olympics Unified Cup presented by TOYOTA

Between 17 and 20 July, 24 global Unified teams (16 male and eight female teams), each comprising players with and without intellectual disabilities, from across the world competed in the world at CIBC Fire Pitch and TOYOTA Park in Chicago. After four days of intense competition, victory ultimately went to France, Slovakia and Ecuador in their respective divisions.

Unified Cup

Special Olympics Slovakia Unified team celebrates victory at the Special Olympics Unified Cup presented by TOYOTA in Chicago which concluded on 20 July.

Illuminating the Inclusion Revolution 

On July 20, more than 225 global landmarks, stadiums and iconic buildings – from the Empire State Building to the Coca-Cola London Eye, and from the Sydney Opera House to the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi – turned red as part of Light Up for Inclusion, a global display of unity representing the dawn of the Inclusion Revolution.

Special Olympics Cities in Red

A selection of the landmarks across Europe Eurasia that were among over 225 worldwide that Lit Up Red for Inclusion on 20 July.

Commemorative Law Enforcement Torch Run and Lighting of the Eternal Flame of Hope

A ceremonial Law Enforcement Torch Run featuring hundreds of law enforcement officers and Special Olympics athletes from around Chicago and the world concluded with the lighting of the Eternal Flame of Hope outside of Soldier Field. The new Eternal Flame of Hope monument, which was unveiled for Special Olympics 50th Anniversary symbolises the eternal hope Special Olympics provides to athletes and their families, and in turn, the eternal hope Special Olympics athletes provide the world.

Global Day of Inclusion

The Global Day of Inclusion was a massive celebration and family-friendly festival that gathered hundreds at Soldier Field in Chicago on 21 July. The aim was to encourage everyone to make their cities and communities more inclusive. Activities included sports activities, games, exhibits, delicious food and live entertainment.

50th Anniversary Celebration Concert

Capping off the 50th Anniversary festivities, Chance The Rapper headlined the 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert also featuring Usher, Smokey Robinson, Jason Mraz, O.A.R., Francis and the Lights, Daya and more.

Learn more about Special Olympics 50th Anniversary: https://www.specialolympics.org/our-work/50th/