In 2003 the first Special Olympics World Summer Games to be held outside of the United States took place in Dublin,Ireland. Approximately 7,000 athletes from 150 countries competed over 18 disciplines. The Dublin games were also the first to have their own opening and closing ceremonies broadcast live, performed by the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese. Most significantly the 2003 games dramatically changed the perceptions and attitudes of society regarding the abilities and limitations of people with intellectual disabilities. The opening ceremony of the 2003 Games has been described by President McAleese as “a time when Ireland was at its superb best”
This year, Los Angeles welcomes more than 7,000 Special Olympics athletes from 177 countries to compete in 21 Olympic-type sports. Team Ireland will compete in 13 different sports from July 25th – August 2nd 2015 with 88 athletes, 40 management and 154 volunteers travelling.