ESPN and Special Olympics have agreed to an eight-year extension for global broadcasts of Special Olympics events and the network’s presenting sponsorship of Special Olympics Unified Sports.

“The relationship between ESPN and Special Olympics spans nearly three and a half decades and has been built on a bedrock of shared belief in the power of sports to positively impact lives and make lasting change in the world,” said Jimmy Pitaro, president of ESPN and co-chair of Disney Media Networks. “In many ways, Special Olympics represents all that is great about sports.”

The new agreement will make ESPN the global broadcast partner of signature Special Olympics events through 2027, including the World Games, World Winter Games and USA Games. ESPN’s support of Special Olympics pans more than 30 years, and multimedia coverage of Special Olympics events began in 2015. The extension includes coverage and distribution of several key events including:

  • Special Olympics World Winter Games Sweden 2021
  • Special Olympics USA Games 2022 (Walt Disney World, Orlando)
  • Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023
  • Special Olympics World Winter Games 2025 (host city TBD)
  • Special Olympics USA Games 2026 (host city TBD)
  • Special Olympics World Games 2027 (host city TBD)

“The longstanding partnership between Special Olympics and ESPN goes beyond just broadcasting,” said Mary Davis, CEO of Special Olympics. “This relationship is a catalyst for inclusion. ESPN is telling the stories of Special Olympics athletes at World Games, USA Games and at some of the over 100,000 Special Olympics events happening around the world every year. Through its storytelling, media platforms and grant-making, ESPN is building positive attitudes towards people with intellectual disabilities and showing the world that the revolution is inclusion.”

In addition to the broadcast agreement, ESPN will continue as a global presenting sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports, a relationship that began in 2013. Special Olympics Unified Sports brings people with and without intellectual disabilities together to play, train and compete. Under terms of the deal, ESPN and Special Olympics will create more events through grants in the United States and multiple other countries, and support inclusive unified sports within refugee camps. They will also work to engage sports leagues and organizations to support an expansion of the program.