Photo of Virtus logo printed on paper

What is Virtus?

Virtus World Intellectual Impairment Sport or “Virtus” is the International Federation for athletes with intellectual impairment. Virtus is a founding member of the International Paralympic Committee.

Virtus governs the eligibility of athletes with an intellectual impairment, elite competition and sport development. Virtus advocates for inclusion in sport, and building elite pathways for more athletes with an intellectual impairment to compete at the highest levels of international sport.

Virtus in New Zealand

Paralympics New Zealand is the affiliated national member organisation for Virtus in New Zealand. PNZ governs the eligibility of athletes with intellectual impairment for Virtus sports and promotes Virtus elite competition and sport development.

The Virtus Oceania Asia Games 2022

The Virtus Oceania Asia Games 2022 (OA Games 2022) is an international multi-sport competition in the Oceania Asia region for elite athletes with an intellectual impairment. It is being held 5-11 November 2022 in Brisbane, Australia. 

The Virtus Global Games 2023

The Virtus Global Games are held every four years.

New Zealanders competed at the last Global Games in Brisbane in 2019 (then known as INAS Global Games).

The next Virtus Global Games will be held in Vichy, France from 4-10 June 2023 (also known as GG2023). It will be the sixth edition of the Virtus Global Games in Virtus’ 35-year history.

The Virtus Member Organisation for France, the Fédération Française du Sport Adapté (FFSA) will host the Virtus Global Games 2023.

About 1,100 athletes and officials from 60 nations are expected to take part in the Virtus Global Games 2023. The event will feature nine sport disciplines. There will also be about 400 volunteers to support the delivery of the competition.

Who is eligible to compete in the Virtus sports?

Intellectual Impairment is a global (or umbrella) term for a range of cognitive and developmental conditions.

Within Virtus competitions, there are three eligible groups:

  • II1 (Intellectual Impairment)
  • II2 (Significant Intellectual Impairment)
  • II3 (Autism)

To compete in Virtus competitions, athletes must go through an eligibility process and be included on the Virtus Athlete Eligibility masterlist.

Find out more about these classifications on the Virtus website.

Can athletes compete at both Virtus and the Paralympic Games?

Some athletes with an intellectual impairment in the II1 category are also eligible to compete at the Paralympic Games. The Paralympic sports with an intellectual impairment classification are Para athletics, Para swimming, Para table tennis and Para taekwondo. Only elite Para athletes with eligible intellectual impairments diagnosed before the age of 18 with an international classification status can compete at the Paralympic Games.

In simple terms the criteria state that a Para athlete must show:

  • An IQ of 75 or lower.
  • Significant limitations in adaptive behaviour as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical adaptive skills.
  • Their impairment must have been diagnosed before the age of 18 (i.e. in the developmental stage of their life).

Which sports are part of Virtus?

Several sports are contested at the Virtus Games.

At the Oceania Asia 2022 Games, the following 12 sports are contested:

  • Athletics
  • Badminton
  • Basketball
  • Cycling
  • Judo
  • Rowing
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Taekwondo
  • Table tennis
  • Tennis
  • Triathlon

At the Virtus Global Games 2023, the following 9 sports will be contested:

  • Athletics
  • Rowing
  • Basketball
  • Cycling
  • Equestrian
  • Futsal
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Table tennis
Athletes with flags on a city street
The New Zealand athletes at the INAS Global Games in Brisbane in 2019.

Is Virtus the same as INAS?

Virtus used to be called INAS. INAS (International Sports Federation for Persons with Intellectual Disability was established in 1986. In 2020, the organisation was rebranded as Virtus World Intellectual Impairment Sport.

What’s the difference between Virtus and the Special Olympics?

The Special Olympics World Games are open to all people with intellectual impairments. To compete in Virtus Games or in the Paralympic Games, athletes must fulfill certain criteria and meet qualifying standards in order to be eligible.