First Ever Special Olympics World Games in Latin America

May 14, 2024

Chile’s capital city of Santiago will host the 2027 Special Olympics World Games, marking the first time in the organisation’s 55-year history that a World Games will take place in the southern hemisphere.

Santiago will welcome more than 6,000 athletes from over 170 nations to compete in 22 Olympic sports, including badminton, at its state-of-the-art competition venues. They will be supported by over 2,000 coaches and thousands of volunteers. The world’s largest sports and humanitarian event will also attract 6,000 family members, more than 2,000 international media and 500,000 spectators.

Special Olympics Board Director and Athlete Leader Emanuelle (Manu) Dutra today announced Santiago, Chile as the host of the 2027 Special Olympics World Games. At partner Organization of American States (OAS) headquarters, Manu was joined by Dr. Timothy Shriver, Chairman, Special Olympics; Secretary General Luis Almagro, OAS; Mr. Jaime Pizarro, Minister of Sport, Chile; Ms. Carolina Picasso, President, Special Olympics Chile; Ms. Claudia Echeverry, Regional Managing President, Special Olympics Latin America; and Mr. Gonzalo Escobar, Athlete Leader, Special Olympics Chile.

The news was announced at a press event at the Organization of American States in Washington, DC on 24 April. (link)

“We are thrilled the World Games has been awarded to Santiago. In less than 15 years, our programme in Chile has reduced the fear of difference and we have worked tirelessly to build systems that advance inclusion in sports, health, and education for one of the world’s most marginalised populations,” said Special Olympics Chairman Dr. Timothy Shriver.

“Bringing these Games to the region will leave a long-lasting legacy of sport for development.”

The government of Chile and Santiago have committed a budget of approximately US$134 million to plan and deliver the World Games, which contribute to several UN Sustainable Development Goals including No Poverty, Good Health & Well-being, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Reduced Inequalities, and others.

The legacy of the 2027 World Games includes developing Unified Schools programming in at least 200 municipalities and 1,000 schools; increasing training about people with intellectual disabilities (ID) for law enforcement; improving education of primary healthcare professionals treating people with intellectual disabilities; expansion of Special Olympics Chile into all 16 regions of the country; and a series of actions to mobilise awareness and political commitment throughout Latin America.

Through the initiative between BWF and Special Olympics International (SOI), linked closely with the BWF-SOI Global Badminton Development Strategy 2020-2024 to grow the sport, 103 programs offer badminton with 135,000 Special Olympics shuttlers and 65 partnerships between Special Olympics and badminton federations.

This October, Paraguay hosts the Special Olympics Latin America (SOLA) Regional Games, where badminton will be on the programme for the first time too!