There are four main levels of events within Special Olympics; local, regional, national and international. 
By participating in a competition at one level, athletes earn the right to be considered for advancement to higher levels of competition within Special Olympics.

Local and Regional Events

Ribbon and Certificate Days

Ribbon and Certificate Days are the most common kind of competition for athletes involved in Special Olympics New Zealand. They are called Ribbon or Certificate Days because athletes are awarded ribbons/certificates for first to eighth place. Ribbon and Certificate days are also known as Tier 1 competitions. They usually take place on a single day.

Regional Events

Regional Games are sports competitions for athletes from within a region. Regional Games are usually held over two days and involve an overnight stay but some sports may only require one day of competition.

Regional Games are typically centred on one sport but sometimes offer more than one sport. Regional Events are also known as Tier 2 competitions. In the lead-up to National Games, athletes must participate in Ribbon Days and Regional Games.

Have-a-go Days

Have-a-go Days give athletes a chance try out a sport and see if they like it before signing up. Have-a-go Days are just for fun.  

National Games

Special Olympics New Zealand National Summer Games and National Winter Games are each held every four years, these are multi-day sports competitions. Athletes gather from around the country to compete in a variety of season-specific sports.

National Games are held on a residential basis. For some athletes, going to National Games is the first time they’ve travelled away from home. In the lead-up to World Games, athletes must participate in National Games to be considered for selection.

2023 National Winter Games

The 2023 National Winter Games took place at the stunning Cardrona Alpine Resort from August 15th-19th, with athletes competing in Intermediate and Advanced Alpine skiing and Intermediate snowboarding events.

Learn more about the 2023 National Winter Games here

2025 National Summer Games

The 2025 National Summer Games will take place in Ōtautahi Christchurch, Wednesday 10 – Sunday 14 December. With approximately 1350 athletes expected to compete across 11 different sports and 7 venues.

Learn more about the 2025 National Summer Games here

International Games

Special Olympics World Summer Games and World Winter Games are each held every four years. Special Olympics World Games are multi-day sports competitions that gather athletes from around the world. Competition is available in a variety of season-specific sports.​

World Games are held on a residential basis and offer other activities in addition to sports such as Healthy Athletes, Host Town Programme and Athlete Congress.​

Sometimes there are additional opportunities for athletes from New Zealand to travel to other international events such as the Trans-Tasman Games and Asia Pacific Games.

2023 Berlin World Summer Games

New Zealand’s team of 39 athletes represented the county tremendously at the 2023 World Summer Games in Berlin, winning five Gold Medals, 17 Silvers and 12 Bronzes across the eight days on inspiring competition.

Visit the official website at

2025 Torino World Winter Games

Special Olympics New Zealand is thrilled to announce the athletes who have been named in the preliminary squad to represent New Zealand in the 2025 World Winter Games which will be hosted in Torino 8 – 16 March 2025.

See the New Zealand Team for the 2025 World Winter Games here

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