The Global Games are the world’s biggest sports event for athletes with an intellectual impairment.
More than 1,000 athletes from all around the globe gather every four years to compete for medals.
The sports contested are athletics, swimming, table tennis, rowing, basketball, futsal, tennis and cycling. Demonstration events are also included at every edition. These reflect the most popular sports of the host nation not already on the Virtus: World Intellectual Impairment Sport programme.
The Global Games are also an important event in the build-up to the Paralympic Games.
Many athletes who have made their major international debut at the Global Games have gone on to win Paralympic titles.
The first multi-sport event for athletes with an intellectual impairment were held in Harnosand, Sweden, in 1989.
Named ‘the 1st World Games for Athletes with an Intellectual Disability’, they took place three years after Virtus: World Intellectual Impairment Sport was formed.
Over the following years the focus shifted to getting onto the Paralympic programme, adding sports and countries. More information about this can be found on the history of Virtus: World Intellectual Impairment Sport page.
Then after more than a decade of continued development of sport for athletes with an intellectual impairment, the Global Games returned to their roots in Sweden.
Results from all Global Games can be found at the results, rankings and records page.
2023 Global Games
The search for the hosts of the 2023 Games began on 1st February 2018. Expected to be the most competitive process yet, it will culminate with the winning host being announced in early 2020.
Member Organisations who are interested in bidding to host the event – the 6th edition of the Games – can find details here.
2019 Global Games, Brisbane, Australia
The 2019 Global Games are expected to be the best yet. The Games will be hosted by Sport Inclusion Australia – member organisation in Australia. They are working with many national and international sporting bodies.
More than 1,000 athletes are expected to travel to Brisbane just under one year ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. The host nation are expected to be strong, continuing their Global Games record where they have finished on top of the medals table at every edition since 2009.
Guayaquil, Ecuador, 2015
The 2015 Global Games marked the first time that the event was held outside of Europe.
It was also the largest ever competition for athletes with an intellectual impairment to be held in South America, just one year before the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Australia and Hong Kong both won 37 medals in total. However Australia were the top nation once again with 20 gold, 10 silver and seven bronze medals. They led Hong Kong (13, 11, 13) and Portugal (11, 7, 7).
Brazil entered the top 10 for the first time since 2004 with an eighth place finish, showing their growing talent in the build up to Rio 2016.
Liguria, Italy, 2011
The third Global Games took place between 26th September – 4th October 2011. Contended by more than 700 athletes, they set a new standard against which future Games will be measured.
It was an important competition for athletes as just one year later some of them would compete at the Paralympic Games in London, Great Britain. It would be the first time since Sydney 2000 that athletes with an intellectual impairment would compete.
Australia continued their dominance from 2009, winning 30 golds, 14 silver and 11 bronze to top the medals table. Portugal just beat Poland to second by one gold with 13.
Liberec, Czech Republic, 2009
Opened by the Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic Přemysl Sobotka, the Games featured more than 800 athletes from 34 countries
Nine sports were contended – swimming, athletics, futsal, basketball, cycling, tennis and table tennis. Judo and indoor rowing were demonstration sports.
The 2009 edition saw Australia emerge as a strong force in intellectual impairment sport. Finishing first in the medals table with 20 gold, 15 silver and 13 bronze, they won 18 more medals than nearest rivals Portugal who claimed 30 podiums.
Bollnas, Sweden, 2004
The first Global Games took place in the small university town of Bollnas.
More than 1,000 athletes competed representing 40 nations. It was upon this success that the future of the Games as a regular celebration of intellectual impairment sport was secured.
Poland finished on top of the medals table with 26 gold, 14 silver and 10 bronze medals. They were followed by Australia (11, 16, 17) and Hong Kong (8, 12, 7).