Only one year to go until the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 in Austria!

The countdown has officially begun! In exactly one year from today, the Special Olympics World Winter Games, being held in Graz, Schladming and Ramsau, will kick-off! More than 3,000 athletes from more than 100 nations will travel to Austria and compete across nine sports. The Pre-Games, held in January of this year, was a dress rehearsal for what to expect in 2017. The Pre-Games allowed Special Olympics the opportunity to evaluate all operational needs for next year’s Games. The facts and figures speak for themselves: in addition to the 3,000 athletes expected from over 100 countries, there will be 5,000 family members, 1,100 coaches, 1,000 media representatives, 3,000 volunteers and 2,000 honored guests and Congress participants expected. Nearly 15,000 people will participate in the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria in March 2017.

"We have used the Pre-Games as an opportunity to further prepare for the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017. A year may sound like a long time, but the time will pass very quickly and the Games will be ‘at our front door" in no time!” said the two Austria 2017 managing directors Marc Angelini and Markus Pichler. "We are excited to bring the Special Olympics World Winter Games to Austria and are working closely with Special Olympics International to deliver an event that will not only open hearts and minds across Styria and Austria, but will leave an everlasting impact felt around the world, said Hermann Kröll, President of Special Olympics Austria and the 2017 games.

The Special Olympics World Winter Games is one of the biggest sporting events ever to take place in Austria. During the course of the next year, the Games Organizing Committee will work alongside sponsors, partners, volunteers and the media to further promote the World Games. Help in such endeavors will come through many prominent ambassadors such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and ski stars Marcel Hirscher, Hans Knauss and Michael Tritscher and actor August Schmoelzer. Another sports hero who will assume future ambassador activities is Mario Stecher, the two-time Olympic champion in Nordic combined, very happy to support the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017. The 38 year-old Styrian of great success is very connected to Ramsau (World Championships silver 1999, two victories in World Cup), met an impressive career behind it and in all facets of the sport: "Sport knows no bounds! It stands for equality, respect and acceptance."

In exactly twelve months the beautiful country of Austria will host a World Winter Games that will showcase and celebrate the skills and gifts of our over 3,000 athletes who have trained hard to represent their countries on an international stage,” said Mary Davis, Acting CEO, Special Olympics International. “This is the second time Austria will be home to a World Games. In 1993 Austria hosted a hugely successful Special Olympics World Winter Games and demonstrated then how a world event can be a catalyst for not only the development of Special Olympics, but for advancing public policy, attitudinal change and inclusion of people with inclusion. In March 2017, Austria will once again, open the hearts and minds of people towards people with intellectual disability, creating opportunities for inclusion leading to equality, acceptance and change in society whilst, at the same time making an invaluable contribution to the quality of life of the athletes and their families, both in Austria and globally.”  


Nine Sports in Three Regions

Graz, Schladming and Ramsau – will be central in March 2017, in the focus of the sports world. The world-class venues of the sporting competitions will be located in Schladming, Ramsau and Graz. The Convention Center and the Town Hall in Graz are real "Olympic Centres", and the redeveloped ice rink in Liebenau will be a perfect site.


Sports and venues at a glance:

Graz: Floor hockey, Floorball and Stock sports (Convention Center)

Graz: Figure skating and Speed skating (Ice Hall Liebenau)

Schladming: Alpine Ski and Snowboard (Slope 32)

Ramsau: Snowshoeing and Nordic skiing (World Cup Stadium)


Torch Relay and Host-Town-Program

The Games will officially begin with the Opening Ceremony kicking off in Schladming (World Cup Stadium Planai) on 18 March 2017. Prior to Opening Ceremony, on 2 March, the Special Olympics Flame of Hope for the Special Olympics World Winter Games Austria 2017 will be lit during a formal torch lighting ceremony in Athens and then travel to Austria. The Law Enforcement Torch Run will begin on 9th March in Bregenz (Vorarlberg), then the Flame of Hope will be carried throughout multiple cities in Austria. The Final Leg Team (100 members strong) carrying the Flame of Hope throughout Austria will be comprised of law enforcement runners, Special Olympics athletes, and Logistics Team members from 79 Torch Run programs representing 24 countries around the world. The route for the Torch Run is currently being determined. Adi Reiter, Head of the Law Enforcement Torch Run said, "We will visit 49 cities in ten days and bring the Special Olympics World Winter Games to not only Graz, Schladming and Ramsau, but multiple communities across Austria. "

The final route will be confirmed in the next few months, but the "Flame of Hope" will visit the following locations:

March 9, 2017: Vorarlberg
March 10, 2017: Tirol
March 11, 2017: Salzburg
March 12, 2017: Upper Austria
March 13, 2017: Lower Austria
March 14, 2017: Vienna
March 15, 2017: Burgenland
March 16, 2017: Carinthia
March 17-18, 2017: Styria


Before the Special Olympics World Games begin on 18 March, 2017, 3,000 athletes from 110 nations will be welcomed to Austria with a three day “Host Town” program from March 14-16 2017. The Host Town program will welcome the athletes to Austria before the start of the World Games, giving them the welcome of a lifetime with three days of cultural events, training and rest.

International delegations are spread throughout Austria – from Vorarlberg to Burgenland. As of 1 March 2016, more than 20 delegations already were housed in different regions. The Rotary Clubs of Austria is playing an essential role in the Host Town Program, helping to cover the costs incurred by the visits of athletes and managers in the regions.

Please click here to learn more about becoming part of the Host Town program:


Media registration and hotel for journalists

Media registration will open on 26 September 2016 on Beginning in April 2016 on the homepage, recommended hotels and other accommodation will be available for review.


Go back

Austria 2017 Dots Full Width Background