Do you know the differences between the Olympics, the Paralympics and the Special Olympics?

The Winter Olympic Games are coming up next week and I can’t wait to watch Ice Skating! It’s probably one of my favorite Winter Olympic Sports. What are your favorite games to watch?


Photo courtesy of


In honor of The Winter Olympics Games, let’s talk about the similarities and the differences between the Olympics, the Paralympics and the Special Olympics.

The Olympics and Paralympics are two of the biggest sporting events that occur around the world. Due to this, it can be often difficult telling them apart. Let’s start with highlighting the similarities between the two. Both the Olympics and the Paralympics take place every four years, in two segments: The Summer Olympics and the Winter Olympics; similarly the Summer Paralympics and the Winter Paralympics. Olympics and Paralympics take place in the same host city, but usually a few weeks apart.

The primary difference between the Olympics and Paralympics is that while most of the participants in the Olympics are able-bodied, the participants in the Paralympics are affected by some form of physical disability. The Paralympics originally started as a way to help soldiers that had been wounded in World War II. It was a way to provide a rehabilitating sport for veterans, which eventually turned into a recreational sport with friendly competition. Finally, it developed into what the Paralympics are today – an Olympic competition for people with disabilities. All the other differences are superficial. The Olympics are overseen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), whereas the Paralympics are overseen by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).  There are also slight differences regarding the sports played within the games, as well as the country members that participate in the events. One of the biggest drawbacks in my opinion, are the hours of the TV programing for Paralympics Games. According to the, it is less than half the hours of TV programming for the Paralympics. Although, it will double since the coverage of Sochi 2014. We are on the right track.


Photo courtesy of Joe Kusumoto Photography 


The Special Olympics, on the other hand, have quite a few differences from the other two. They are hosted by the Special Olympics organization, and are focused more on participants with intellectual disabilities. Their events take place at any time, all around the world. They aren’t limited to an every four-year competition. The Special Olympics consist of regional, national and international competitions, which in all add up to more than 108,000 events every year. The goal here is not competition like in the Olympics and Paralympics, but rather participation. The Special Olympics hopes to help differently-abled athletes through the focus and determination of sport. And hence, they also help to train them throughout the year in order to get them ready for their respective events.


Photo courtesy of


I am honored to know two of the Paralympic athletes: Oksana Masters, who competes in biathlon, skiing and formerly rowing, and Amy Purdy, who competes in snowboarding.


Back in 2014 with Amy Purdy and Oksana Masters


Congratulations and good luck to everyone competing at the Winter Olympics and Paralympic games this year. Go Team USA and Go Team Belarus!





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