Press Release: 2018 Special Olympics USA Games Hailed as a “Stunning Success,” Provides Milestone Moments for the Inclusion Revolution

Estimated Attendance of 101,500 Makes for Largest Special Olympics USA Games to Date

July 11, 2018

Last week, 4,000 Special Olympics athletes and coaches came to Seattle with an impassioned message of “inclusion through sports.” And when they arrived, more than 100,000 fans welcomed them with open arms.

The Emerald City provided a welcoming and inclusive host for all the athletes to compete in 14 team and individual sports: athletics, basketball, bocce, bowling, flag football, golf, gymnastics, powerlifting, soccer, softball, stand up paddleboard, swimming, tennis and volleyball.

“From corporate partners and the thousands of fans in the stands, to the 15,000 volunteers who came out in droves to support our athletes and coaches, every single person who participated in the 2018 USA Games contributed to its success,” said Brad Smith, President of Microsoft and Honorary Board Chairman of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. “Every act of participation was itself an act of inclusion. I couldn’t be more proud of the example that Seattle set for the rest of the country as a city of inclusion.”

“These USA Games set a lot of records. Some were for attendance, some were on the playing field, but what I’ll remember most were the countless smiles, hugs and high fives,” said Beth Knox, President and CEO of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. “Now that the country has accepted the challenge to ‘Rise with Us,’ I can’t wait to see how Greater Seattle and other communities ride the momentum from the Games and continue to live out the ideals of inclusion.”

“I commend, thank and applaud Seattle and the local organizing committee for their years of planning and hard work on these Games,” said Timothy P. Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics International. “The week was a stunning success.”

Other highlights of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games include:

  • More than 39,000 spectators attended the Opening Ceremony on Sunday, July 1.
  • 7,409 medals and ribbons were awarded to competitors.
  • The 2018 USA Games served as a platform for a number of Special Olympics firsts including: the debut of stand up paddleboard as a sport at the USA Games, the first job fair for athletes and the first pilot video gaming tournament in partnership with Microsoft’s Xbox gaming division.
  • The USA Games provided athletes with the opportunity to receive free health screenings through Special Olympics Healthy Athletes. The screenings covered seven health disciplines: podiatry, vision, dentistry, physical therapy/fitness, nutrition and healthy habits, audiology, and emotional well-being. In total, more than 1,760 athletes were screened for a total of 7,125 screenings.
  • The USA Games will make an expected economic impact of more than $76.4 million on the Seattle economy, creating 10,200 temporary jobs.

Held every four years, the next Special Olympics USA Games will take place in Orlando, Fla. from June 5-10, 2022.

About the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games

The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games were held in Seattle, Washington July 1-6, 2018. More than 4,000 participants from across the nation, along with the support of tens of thousands of volunteers and spectators, competed in 14 Olympic-type team and individual sports. The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games celebrated the Special Olympics movement and its 50th anniversary; promoted the ideals of acceptance and inclusion through sport; and showcased the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. The 2018 USA Games also highlighted Special Olympics’ work in sport, education, health and community-building.

For more information on the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, please visit and follow on Facebook (@SpecialOlympicsUSAGames), Twitter (@2018USAGames) and Instagram (@SpecialOlympicsUSAGames).

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The 2018 USA Games took place in Seattle from July 1-6. More than 4,000 athletes and coaches competed in 14 sports in venues across Puget Sound and displayed true sportsmanship, respect, joy and inclusion.