Special Olympics Switzerland

World Winter Games 2029

Switzerland welcomes the global Special Olympics movement

The international Board of Directors of Special Olympics has provisionally awarded World Winter Games 2029 to Switzerland. The World Winter Games bring together people with and without intellectual disabilities, and are the world’s largest sports and humanitarian event.

World Winter Games is about more than sports. The national Special Olympics program in Switzerland partners with Swiss sport federations and clubs to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Games provide an immersive experience for an inclusive Switzerland, one where everyone to has equal access to sports, education, health, and all aspects of life.

For twelve days 2,500 athletes from 100 nations will compete in nine sports. They will be accompanied by countless family members, volunteers, fans, and media from around the world. Prior to the Opening Ceremony at Letzigrund Stadium in Zurich on 6 March 2029, athletes will get to know all regions of Switzerland via the Host Town program. After the Closing Ceremony on 17 March 2029, the impact of the Games will live on in the hearts and attitudes of the people of the canton of Graubünden and across the country.

The competitions in nine sporting disciplines will be held over six days in the canton of Graubunden: figure skating, short track, floorball, floor hockey in Chur; alpine skiing and snowboarding in Arosa; and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and dance at Lenzerheide.

The provisional award is still subject to a funding guarantee which is expected in October 2022, at which time a formal signing ceremony will take place. Special Olympics Switzerland now begins an eight-year campaign for inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities in policies and practices, a timeframe requested specifically in the Swiss bid to ensure a sustainable legacy.

I am convinced that the hosting of the World Winter Games 2029 in Switzerland will sustainably contribute to an inclusive society.

Federal Councillor Viola Amherd, Chair of the Federal Department of Defence and Sport


Bid for World Winter Games in Switzerland has been submitted

Special Olympics Switzerland submitted its bid for World Winter Games in Switzerland in March 2029 to Special Olympics International on January 27, 2021. The main goal of the Games in Switzerland is to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in our society. 2500 athletes, 650 coaches and about 800 media representatives are expected to...

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Candidacy launch

Ittigen, 12.10.2020. The candidacy dossier was submitted to Federal Councillor Viola Amherd. She is backing the project and had intended to receive a delegation of athletes with disabilities at the Federal Palace. Due to increased coronavirus measures, however, this was not possible. Nevertheless, the Chair of the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport...

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The candidacy dossier is ready

On 30 July 2020, the candidacy dossier for hosting the World Winter Games 2029 drawn up by the University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons and Special Olympics Switzerland was completed and submitted to the relevant public-sector partners.

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Questions / Answers

Which disciplines will be on offer?

Types of sport Pictogram Total Athletes Coaches
Ski Alpine
Ski Alpin
500 400 100
100 80 20
Cross Country Skiing
475 380 95
375 300 75
Figure Skating
240 190 50
Short Track
Short Track
270 215 55
Short Track
770 615 155
Floor Hockey
245 195 59
Dance Sport
165 130 35
3140 2505 635

All of Switzerland is joining in!

As with all Special Olympics World Games, the Host Town Programme takes place over four days ahead of the opening ceremony. Spread across every canton, the more than 100 delegations from different nations will prepare for their participation and get to know Switzerland. The Host Town Programme is designed to help the delegations interact with the population in general and school children in particular, build personal relationships and celebrate inclusivity in Swiss society. It will be held in places important to Swiss tourism.

What is the difference between the Special Olympics and the Paralympics?

Unlike the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the World Games are not an elite sports event. Every participant will be successful and be given a real opportunity to win a medal. There is no single winner in any of the disciplines.

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What is the sporting philosophy behind the Special Olympics?

Special Olympics competitions or games are sporting events at which every participant should experience success. Using existing results or ones achieved during a preliminary competition (divisioning), the athletes in all disciplines are divided into homogeneous ability groups (divisions).

Gender and age are taken into account only when participant numbers are high. Each ability group comprises a minimum of three and a maximum of eight athletes, and medals are awarded in every individual division. The groups are formed in such a way that, despite any potential differences in performance within a group, every participant has the opportunity to win a medal.

When is the event set to take place?

The World Winter Games in Switzerland are set to take place between 6 and 18 March 2029. This avoids the winter sports holiday periods of most Swiss cantons.

6th March 2029

7th - 8th March 2029
Wednesday - Friday

Arrival of the delegations and transfer to the host town.

10th March 2029

Host Town Programme in all cantons

11th - 16th March 2029
Wednesday - Friday

Opening ceremony

17th - 18th March 2029
Saturday - Sunday

Divisioning, competitions and medal ceremonies

Participating nations

Regions Countries
Africa Burkina Faso, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda
Asia / Pacific Australia, Bangladesh, Bharat (India), Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nippon, Pakistan, Serendib (Sri Lanka), Singapore
Asia China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Korea, Macau, Mongolia
Europe/Eurasia Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, FYR Macedonia, Georgia Republic, Germany, Gibraltar, Great Britain, Hellas (Greece), Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyz Re-public, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Monaco, Montene-gro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbeki-stan
Latin America Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela
Middle East Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pales-tine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates
North America Canada, Jamaica, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, USA

Who awards the World Games 2029

The international Board of Directors of Special Olympics has provisionally awarded the World Winter Games 2029 to Switzerland. The provisional award is still subject to a funding guarantee which is expected in September 2022, at which time a formal signing ceremony will take place.

Who will be the organiser of the World Winter Games 2029?

For the delivery of the WWG 2029, a legal entity in accordance with Swiss law (an association or a society) will be set up to bring together the key stakeholders. Special Olympics Switzerland will be responsible for founding this organisation and will be represented on the strategic committee. The name of the event will be “World Winter Games 2029”. The descriptor “Switzerland” will serve to present the event externally.
Special Olympics World Winter Games Switzerland 2029
Graubunden, Chur, Zurich, Arosa, Lenzerheide

Strategic and operative committees will be defined in accordance with the regulations set out by Special Olympics International and in collaboration with all participating partners. These committees will be in line with those of other major events. A strategic committee that includes the relevant inclusivity organisations will be set up to implement the legacy. Collaborations with established partners in Switzerland will be sought in order to achieve the legacy goals.

How will the Games be funded?

The World Winter Games 2029 will cost 38 million Swiss francs – so around the same amount as the Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020. The funding concept is based on 75% of the total costs being borne by the Swiss Federal Government, the cantons of Graubunden and Zurich, the cities of Chur and Zurich, and the Arosa and Lenzerheide regions. Commercial activities will generate only modest revenue. Ticketing revenue is only possible at the opening ceremony as all competitions and other events will be freely accessible.

The candidacy dossier was drawn up by Special Olympics Switzerland and the University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons in collaboration with the cities of Chur and Zurich, the cantons of Graubunden and Zurich and the municipalities of Arosa and Vaz/Obervaz. Together with the appropriate application, it was submitted to the public-sector partners on 30 July 2020. This marked the launch of the political processes relevant to the funding of the event. The assurances of funding must apply both for delivery in 2029 as well in 2033, in case Switzerland is not chosen as the host country for 2029. The political funding process is likely to last until mid-2022.