Special Olympics

SPECIAL OLYMPICS: Local athlete Andrew Emery brings the ball up the court during the Special Olympics regional tournament last month in Fergus Falls. 

In a huge development announced at the University of Minnesota on May 6, the 2026 Special Olympics are coming to Minnesota.

Gov. Tim Walz along with University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel, President and CEO of Special Olympics Minnesota Dave Dorn and CEO of United Healthcare Brian Thompson and Special Olympics Minnesota athletes made the presentation.

Walz announced that the Twin Cities will host the 2026 Special Olympics USA games, held every four years in the United States for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

“Every fours years, the Special Olympics hosts the USA games, and in 2026 this will be the single biggest sporting event in the United States during that year. The event will host athletes from all fifty states, Canada and the Caribbean competing in over twenty sports. It will bring over 115,000 people to Minnesota, with a projected economic impact of $70 million. More importantly, it will showcase these incredible athletes and the work they do and the idea of inclusiveness in our society. Minnesota has always prided ourselves on our health and wellness by making sure that includes everyone,” said Walz.

He also emphasized that it takes a lot of people to make something like this happen and a lot of planning.

The University of Minnesota will be the host site, providing athletic, medical and housing spaces for the event.

According to the organization, the Special Olympics was founded in 1968 with the main goal to accept and welcome individuals as they are. Special Olympics provides year-round training in Olympic based sports and is based in 192 countries.



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