Special Olympics Azerbaijan
9 March 2022

The Special Olympics Movement, internationally known as “Special Olympics”, was
founded in 1963 by Eunice Kennedy-Shriver, the sister of US President John F. Kennedy.
It all started with a sports and health camp for the mentally handicapped at his home. Their
skill and activity in playing football, running and swimming soon attracted the attention of
the whole world. All this has led to a complete change in public opinion against people with
intellectual disabilities.
In 1968, the first Special Olympics Summer Games were held in Chicago. In 1988,
the International Olympic Committee officially recognized Special Olympics and a
memorandum of understanding was signed.
The main office of Special Olympics is in Washington, DC. Until 2010, lifelong
honorary chairman of Special Olympics was Sargent Shriver, the husband of Eunice
Kennedy-Shriver. The current Chairman and General Manager of the Special Olympics is
their son, Dr. Timothy Shriver.
Special Olympics and Paralympics are two different organizations. Special Olympics
allows people with intellectual disabilities to demonstrate their athletic skills at all levels.
That is, athletes with weak, medium and high results are divided into separate groups
according to their level of training, and in each group they compete for gold, silver and
bronze medals. Paralympics, on the other hand, provide only high-performance athletes with
physical disabilities.
On February 24-28, 1990 in Sukhumi, the capital of the Autonomous Republic of
Abkhazia, Georgia, practical-methodical seminars and Constituent Conference with the
participation of heads and specialists of the Special Olympics International were held and
Special Olympics USSR was established. It should be noted that Shahin Aliyev, currently
Chairman of the SO Azerbaijan, also represented the Republic of Azerbaijan at the
Constituent Conference. The Special Olympics Movement in Azerbaijan has been operating
within Special Olympics USSR since that date. Special Olympics Azerbaijan was
established at the first Constituent Conference held on November 30, 1991, after Azerbaijan
gained independence. Former Minister of Labor and Social Protection of the Republic of
Azerbaijan Lydia Rasulova was elected the first President of SO Azerbaijan, while Shahin
Aliyev, former Deputy Chairman of the Republican Council of the "Reserve Labor Forces"
Voluntary Sports Society of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan, was
elected Vice-President. SO Azerbaijan was registered with the board of the Ministry of
Justice in the same day together with the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan on
March 10, 1992. SO Azerbaijan has been a member of the Special Olympics International
and Europe / Eurasia since 1993.Komitə atletika, basketbol, badminton, cüdo, florbol,
futbol, həndbol, pauerliftinq, stolüstü tennis, üzgüçülük və voleybol idman növlərini inkişaf
SO Azerbaijan covers more than 20 special, auxiliary and boarding schools, social
service enterprises for children with mental and physical disabilities, orphanages of the
Ministries of Education, Labor and Social Protection of the Republic of Azerbaijan, as
well as Down and Autism Centers in Baku-Absheron, Ganja, Sumgayit, Sheki, Lankaran,
Guba, Goychay and Salyan regions. More than 5,000 people with mental and physical
disabilities are involved in the Special Olympics Movement. SO Azerbaijan seeks to help
them recover by using physical education and sports, and to instill in these people a love
of communication. With their grief and excitement, it helps to avoid being left alone,
without friends, to return to a perfect life, and to find his place in society. In this regard,

the state pays special attention to the logistical, scientific-methodological, financial and
other support of SO Azerbaijan.
We would like to add that our athlete Olga Koval, who participated in the
Paralympic Games in Madrid, Spain for the first time in 1992, won 3 gold medals in
In addition, it should be noted that on September 24-28, 2018, in connection with
the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics, the "Global Young Leadership Forum" was held
in Baku.
Goals and responsibilities of SO Azerbaijan:
The main goal of the Special Olympics Committee in preventing the disability of
people with mental and physical disabilities is to develop physical education and sports
among this category of people.
The main responsibilities of SO Azerbaijan in this direction are:
- to rehabilitate and return to a healthy society people with mental and physical
disabilities through physical education and sports;
- to take measures to direct public opinion to ensure physical education and sports, a
healthy lifestyle for people with mental and physical disabilities;
- to develop a comprehensive program for the development of physical education and
sports, methods of organizing and conducting trainings and sports competitions among
people with mental and physical disabilities;
- to hold events to educate coaches, tutors, community members, parents, volunteers;
- to improve the conditions for the participation of people with mental and physical
disabilities in physical education and sports by using sports facilities and bases of state and
municipal bodies;
- to strive for the development of material-technical, scientific-methodological,
financial and personnel support, training of people with mental and physical disabilities,
wide involvement of physical education teachers, parents, community members, volunteers;
- to establish regional programs - branches of people with mental and physical
disabilities, to provide them with practical and methodological assistance and to organize
regional sports events;
- to organize the process of training people with mental and physical disabilities in
sports departments throughout the year;
- to hold national competitions for people with mental and physical disabilities, to
form national sports teams and to organize their year-round training sessions;
- to ensure the arrangement and holding of competitions through the "UNIFIED
Sports" program in order to accelerate the rehabilitation of people with mental and physical
disabilities and their integration into a healthy society through physical education and sports;
- to prepare and ensure the participation of national sports teams for people with
mental and physical disabilities in international tournaments, European Championships,
European and World Special Olympics Summer and Winter Games.
In close cooperation with the European Football and Basketball Federations, as well
as relevant local sports federations, ministries and departments of the country, national
competitions, football and basketball weeks, as well as various special competitions on
eleven sports during the spring and autumn seasons each year are organized and held.
SO International holds Special Olympics Summer and WinterGames every four
years, SO Europe/Eurasia holds the European Championships in various sports every year,
and the Special Olympics European Summer Games every two years.

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