Frequently Asked Questions
City of Inclusion
Q: Where will the Closing Ceremony be held?
A: The Closing Ceremony will take place at Lake Union Park in Seattle. The festivities start at 6:00 p.m.
Q: Who can attend the Closing Ceremony?
A: The Closing Ceremony is open to the public.
Q: Are tickets required to attend the Closing Ceremony?
A: Tickets are not required for the Closing Ceremony.
Q: When are the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games?
A: The 2018 Games will be held July 1-6, 2018 in Seattle.
Q: What are the main elements and events surrounding the USA Games?
A: The Law Enforcement Torch Run, Opening Ceremony, 14 sports offered in the best sports facilities across the greater Seattle region, Healthy Athletes Program, Fan Zone, Olympic Tow, Young Athletes Festival, Unified Sports Experience, Youth Leadership Summit, Independence Day Celebration, MATP and Closing Ceremony.
Q: What sports will be offered?
A: In 2018, the Special Olympics USA Games will offer 14 sports: Athletics (Track and Field), Basketball, Bocce, Bowling, Flag Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Powerlifting, Soccer, Softball, Stand Up Paddleboard, Swimming, Tennis and Volleyball.
Q: Where will the Special Olympics USA Games take place?
A: The sports competitions and other Games-related special events will take place at a number of venues across the Seattle area including the University of Washington, Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, King County Aquatic Center, Willows Run Golf Club, Celebration Park, Kenmore Lanes and Angle Lake. Click here for information and updates on the locations of sporting and special events.
Q: How many athletes will be competing?
A: More than 3,000 athletes from 52 state programs are expected to participate in the 2018 Games.
Q: Are all of the events free and open to the public?
A: The Young Athletes Festival, the Fan Zone, the Closing Ceremony and all of the sports competitions are free and open to the public. We encourage the community to attend any or all of the competitions and events and cheer on the athletes. Tickets will be required for the Opening Ceremony; more information on how to get tickets will be announced soon.
Q: What if it rains? Will the outdoor special events and sports competitions still take place as planned?
A: Absolutely! The weather in Seattle is typically at its best in July, but if a little rain should happen to fall it will help contribute to a true Seattle experience.
Q: Are these Games affiliated with the Olympics or Paralympics?
A: No. Special Olympics, the Olympics and Paralympics are three separate entities, all recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). They are all run by international non-profit organizations. Apart from that, the Olympics, Special Olympics and Paralympics differ in three main areas: 1) the presence or absence of a disability, and if present, the disability categories of the athletes involved, 2) the criteria and philosophy under which athletes participate, and 3) the structure of their respective organizations.
Q: Are Special Olympics and the Paralympics the same? What is the difference?
a: No. The Special Olympics is focused on using the power of sports to help people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success. Intellectual disability is a term used to describe a person with certain limitations in cognitive functioning and other skills, including communication and self-care. Athletes involved in the Paralympics are mainly those with physical disabilities.
Q: Where were previous USA Games held?
A: 2006 in Ames, Iowa, 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska, and 2014 in Lawrenceville, New Jersey
Q: Where will the next USA Games be held?
A: The site of the 2020 USA Games has not yet been announced.
Healthy Athletes Program
Q: What is the Healthy Athletes Program?
A: Healthy Athletes addresses the critical health care disparity people with intellectual disabilities often face by providing free health examinations. Because of the Healthy Athletes program, Special Olympics is the largest provider of healthcare to people with intellectual disabilities.
Healthy Athletes focuses on seven areas: Fit Feet, Fun Fitness – screening for flexibility, functional strength, balance and aerobic condition, Health Promotion – BMI, blood pressure, bone density, healthy habits, tobacco avoidance, Healthy Hearing, Opening Eyes, Special Smiles, Strong Minds – helps athletes strengthen their coping skills.
Within each area, a team of highly-trained volunteer medical and dental professionals will provide free health screenings and educational sessions for athletes.
Q: Who is conducting the screenings?
A: Physicians, nurses, dentists and other highly-trained volunteer medical professionals from Kaiser Permanente will provide these free, critical health screenings and educational sessions for our athletes. In addition, Kaiser Permanente will oversee on-site medical needs throughout the Games. Kaiser Permanente is the official Health Partner of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games.
Jobs at the Games
Q: I want to work for the USA Games. Are you hiring?
A: You can find all of our current open positions here.
Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR)
Q: What is the Law Enforcement Torch Run?
A: In the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), law enforcement representatives will carry the Special Olympics Flame of Hope across the state of Washington, culminating with the lighting of the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony. The LETR takes place June 27-July 1.
Motor Activity Training Program (MATP)
Q: What is MATP?
A: The Special Olympics Motor Activity Training Program is designed for athletes who are unable to participate in official Special Olympics sport competitions because of their skill and/or functional abilities.
The Motor Activity Training Program is designed to prepare athletes -- including those with severe or profound intellectual disability and significant physical disabilities -- for sport-specific activities appropriate for their ability levels.
Q: Where will the Opening Ceremony be held?
A: The Opening Ceremony will be held at Husky Stadium on July 1, 2018.
Q: Who can attend the Opening Ceremony?
A: The Opening Ceremony will be open to the general public. We encourage everyone to attend and support the more than 3,000 athletes who’ll be competing in the USA Games.
Q: Are tickets required to attend the Opening Ceremony?
A: Tickets will be required to attend the Opening Ceremony. More information on how to get tickets will be announced soon.
Q: Where will the next USA Games be held?
A: The site of the 2020 USA Games has not yet been determined.
Q: How many USA Games have been held to date?
A: The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle will mark the fourth Special Olympics USA Games. The first USA Games was held in Ames, Iowa in 2006. The second USA Games was held in Lincoln, Nebraska in 2010. The third was held in New Jersey in 2014.
Q: What is the expected economic impact to the Puget Sound region?
A: More than 3,000 athletes along with their coaches and thousands of family members, friends and volunteers are expected to visit the greater Seattle area during the 2018 USA Games. The projected economic impact of the 2018 USA Games is $76.4 million.
Participating in the Games - Athletes
Q: How are the athletes selected to attend the Special Olympics USA Games?
A: Athletes must qualify and are selected on the state level, so we recommend contacting your state’s Special Olympics office to learn more. You can find a list of all of the Special Olympics programs in the U.S. here.
Q: How do the state Programs select their teams for the USA Games?
A: Special Olympics State Programs select their delegates based on a process to ensure that athletes of all ability levels have an equal opportunity to advance to the next higher level competition, provided the sport and event are offered at the next highest level of competition.
Q: At what age can athletes begin competing in the Special Olympics USA Games? Is there an age limit?
A: Athletes must be at least eight years old to compete; there is no maximum age limit for our athletes. For athletes younger than eight, Special Olympics offers the Young Athletes program which provides children ages 2 to 7, and their families, with activities and resources to prepare the next generation of Special Olympics athletes.
Q: Why can’t everyone compete in the USA Games?
A: It is in keeping with the sport philosophy of Special Olympics that regardless of ability level, competition progression is key to acknowledging and rewarding every athlete’s hard work, improvement and athletic excellence. This practice is consistent with many of the world’s sports organizations. Other factors such as venue capacity, funding, volunteer workforce, and more, dictate realistic parameters regarding the size and duration of Games. This inherently necessitates constraints on how many participants can be accommodated and how many competitions can be contested during a set time.
Special Olympics Town
Unified Sports Experience
Unified Youth Leadership Summit
Q: I'm planning on coming to the Games to volunteer. How can I plan my lodging based on proximity to the venues?
A: Visit our Plan Your Visit section on here and refer to the venue map. Selecting lodging near the light rail line is the easiest way to ensure excellent access between the airport and most venues.
Q: What is the event schedule?
A: Refer to the event schedule here.
Q: How can I volunteer for the USA Games?
A: Registration will open for groups in September of 2017 and for individuals in January of 2018. If you are interested in volunteering and know you will be available next July then click here to register your interest. We'll contact you as registrations open.
Q: Will there be transportation provided for volunteers?
A: USA Games is encouraging use of local public transit options and most venues are on bus lines or served by light rail. In areas not served by public transit free parking is available. There will not be a volunteer-specific shuttle.
Q: How old do I have to be to volunteer?
A: Volunteers must be 14 yrs or older to volunteer without a chaperone. Volunteers as young as 8 years old can volunteer with a 1:1 ratio of adult to child. All ages can volunteer as "Fans In the Stands". A parent or guardian signature will be required for all volunteers under 18 years of age.
Q: Do I need any special skills to volunteer?
A: No special skills are required for most volunteer positions. Training and orientation sessions will take place prior to the USA Games, job specific training will take place at all venues, and video training will be available online. If you have sport specific knowledge and experience please let us know so that we can place you in the more knowledge-based positions.
Q: Will there be a specific uniform for the volunteers?
A: Uniforms will be provided based on the sizes you provide for us during registration. It will include a t-shirt, cap and string backpack. Additional uniform pieces will be available for purchase. The USA Games uniform must be worn to all volunteer shifts.
Q: Can I request a certain volunteer position?
A: Volunteers will be able to select general categories of jobs including sports, special events, operations or emergency management. Within each you will be able to select from field of play, sports administration, Spectator services, or production. You will be placed in the area of most need within those general areas. We ask all volunteers to be flexible.
Working with the Games - Vendors
Q: I provide a product/service that I believe would be beneficial to the USA Games. Who should I contact?
A: Thank you for your interest in working with the USA Games. Please send information on your product or service to firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be directed to the appropriate staff person.
Young Athletes Festival
Q: What is the Young Athletes Festival?
A: The Young Athletes Festival gives any child ages 2-7 years old – the next generation of Special Olympics athletes – an introduction to sports and play. It will take place July 2-3 at the Seattle Center; July 4 at Celebration Park in Federal Way; and July 5 at the University of Washington.
Q: Who can participate in the Young Athletes Festival? Can only children with intellectual disabilities participate?
A: Any child, with or without an intellectual disability, between the ages of 2-7 years old is welcome to participate, regardless of their athletic ability.