During the summer of 2022 another postponed Mega sporting event has been held and this article is focusing on The World Games that has been held in Birmingham, USA. But what is The World Games and why should it be the best sporting event in the world? These questions will be answered in this article.
History of The World Games
The idea for a multi-sport event for non-Olympic sports came from the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF). Realising that there were few opportunities to become part of the Olympic programme, non-Olympic federations wanted to form their own showcase event to increase the publicity of their sports, which they called The World Games. These federations formed a steering group in early 1979 to decide on the structure and principles of the games and search for a venue.
Back in 1980, the International World Games Association (IWGA) was founded. IWGA has 37 member sport federations but not all sports feature necessarily on every edition. Existing infrastructure and venues in and around the host city are the determining factor in the selection of sports to the Official Sports Program. In addition, the IWGA, in coordination with the host city, can invite some sports to participate in the “invitational” programme. No World Games medals are awarded to invitational sports.
What is the difference between the Olympic Games and The World Games?
While the International Olympic Committee grants its support to all editions of The World Games, and while the IWGA explicitly accepts and adheres to all principles in the Olympic Charter, the multi-sport games differ in one important aspect from the Olympics. The host is never required to build facilities or extend upon available infrastructure for the sake of The World Games alone. Ideally, the event is to be staged at existing venues, in appropriately sized facilities that have been planned or built regardless of the candidate host bidding for the event. This condition influences the composition of The World Games program. Not all sports feature necessarily on every edition. Existing infrastructure and venues in and around the host city are the determining factor in the selection of sports to the Official Sports Program.
One more difference to the Olympics, the invitation to and management of the competitions at The World Games are in the hands of the international sports federations.
When was the first World Games held?
The first edition of The World Games was held in Santa Clara, USA, in 1981. It was opened by Kim Un-yong, President of The World Games I executive committee. at Buck Shaw Stadium. At the opening ceremony, the athletes marched sorted by sport and not by nation.
The 15 sports at the inaugural games included badminton, casting, racquetball, and taekwondo. The first medals of the Games were awarded in the 640 kilo class of tug-of-war, with the gold going to the team from England.
(source The World Games )
When is The World Games held?
The World Games is held every four years with competitions for about 3600 of the world’s best athletes in over 30 different sports. Every 4 years, in the years following the Summer Olympic Games.
The World Games are staged over a period of 11 days. They start with the Opening Ceremony and conclude with the Closing Ceremony. Their organization is entrusted by the IWGA to a Local Organizing Committee formed by the host city and entities such as the regional and national governments, the National Olympic Committee and other sporting authorities.
So what is The World Games?
The World Games is organised with the support of the IOC. In The World Games, the sports that strive for Olympic status and that are part of the Olympic family participate, but not in the Olympic Games. the world’s best athletes in young, new and attractive sports and disciplines that are not part of the Olympic Games, unite in their common search for excellence during The World Games. And you know what, The World Games is the second largest multi-sport event in the world after the Olympic Games. Competitions at the highest level in a multitude of diverse, popular and spectacular sports make up the mainstay of The World Games. Sports practiced on land, in the air, in and on the water, all concur in the pursuit of “Faster, Higher, Stronger”.
The previous edition took place in Wroclaw, Poland. Some 35,000 people attended the opening ceremony of the event, which attracted more than 3,000 competitors from 100 nations, including 66 paramotor pilots and skydivers.
The mission of The World Games
The principal statutory aims of the International World Games Association are
- to develop the popularity of the sports that are governed by its Member Federations,
- to improve their prominence through excellent sporting achievements, and
- to conserve all the traditional values of sport.
How to take part in The World Games?
To become part of The World Games programme, the sport must be widely spread in the world and the specific sport federation must be a member of the IWGA.
In each sport, only the best athletes or teams may participate, as determined by the International Sports Federations. In most classes, it is necessary to qualify by a top ranking at the World Championships or a qualification tournaments, to be able to participate.
The World Games 2022 in Birmingham, USA
The World Games is held every fourth year but due to the pandemic, The World Games 2022 is actually one year postponed, which means it should probably be called The World Games 2021 like the Olympic Games did with the Olympic Games 2020. Anyhow, when you read this, The World Games has been held in Birmingham, USA, 7-17 July. Below is a promotional video to give you a good sense of what is happening at The World Games.
How many countries participate at The World Games?
At The World Games 2022 106 countries participated at the start in Birmingham.
This already takes account of the fact that the International World Games Association (IWGA) has banned athletes from Russia and Belarus from competitions in the 34 sports.
Insights of The World Games 2022
Here are som interesting facts of The World Games 2022.
103 Athletes from Ukraine
103 athletes from Ukraine qualified for 63 of the 223 medal events for The World Games 2022.
1,151 unique names
The database shows that around 2,200 quota places for athletes and teams have been allocated. The 34 International Federations that participated in the Games entered 1,151 unique names into the list.
Participants from Senegal, Nepal – and a 16-year-old from Pakistan
New countries on the list include Senegal: Ousmane Gueye qualified for the Nangun All-round Men discipline in Wushu. In the same Medal event, Deepak Hamal of Nepal competed for gold at The World Games. In the Nangun All-round Women competition, Nima Gharti Magar from Nepal competed. Pakistan is now also one of the 106 countries participating in The World Games, and with an athlete who became one of the youngest starters in Birmingham: Ahsan Ramzan from Pakistan won the World Snooker Championship in Doha. At the age of 16! In the final, young Ahsan defeated Amir Sarkhosh from Iran. At the award ceremony, the Vice President of the World Snooker Federation, Jim Leacy, extended an invitation to both the finalists for The World Games 2022.
60-year-old gentleman from Italy
In Billiards, probably the oldest participant in the Birmingham Games qualified: The Italian three-cushion specialist Marco Zanetti wants to coin his silver medal won at The World Games 2017 in Wroclaw, Poland into a golden one. In Cali, Colombia Zanetti won gold, at the Games in Kaohsiung, Chinese Taipei bronze. The „Italian Gentleman Zanetti“ turned 60 on 10th April.
Seven countries with big teams
A total of seven countries secured more than 100 starting places at The World games. These are the USA (352), Germany (300), Italy (238), France (205), Japan (144), Great Britain (118), Switzerland (113) and Ukraine (103).
No parasport federations are currently part of the IWGA, but The World Games in Birmingham was the first edition to include parasports, with the inclusion of wheelchair rugby, and disabled athletes (one per gender) at archery. The IWGA is also aiming to secure a partnership with the International Paralympic Committee and include a quota for para-athletes in sports or events that are not at Paralympic Games program.
For The World Games in 2017 and before, official sports were selected solely by the IWGA. Only sports whose international federations were members of the IWGA could be selected. From 2022, the official sports are selected by both the IWGA and host city and can include some sports whose federations are not part of the IWGA.
The most loyal sports
Sports which have been contested at all editions of The World Games are bowling, finswimming, trampoline and tumbling disciplines of gymnastics, karate, powerlifting, roller sports, tug of war and water skiing.
Images and videos of The World Games 2022
Below we will share some videos and images of The World Games 2022. As you will see, there are som more and less common sports (depending on where you are from) that participate at The World Games.
Who won The World Games 2022?
According to the Medal history of The World Games Germany won most medals, followed by USA and Ukraine.
Why is The World Games probably the best event in the world?
Since 1981, The World Games has provided a unique setting for thousands of athletes from different sports and countries to join in a celebration of unity and friendship across all boundaries. The World Games are the main event for all these athletes – one marked by sporting exploits as well as by camaraderie. Even though most of these athletes and sports will never be part of the Olympic Games, this event allows everyone to take part as long as the sport is played around in the world.
The biggest aspect why The World Games should probably be the best event in the world is that is has a great sustainability approach when it comes to venues. We have all experienced the lack of legacy of the football World Cups and the Olympic Games when it comes to building new big venues that are amazing for the events, however not functional after the events. Usually the new big stadiums after the big events either will not be used at all or the are used but only bring an audience of 10% of the full capacity. But at The World Games the host city use their current venues, which also steers a bit of which sports can participate at each World Games.
Another interesting aspect of The World Games is the democratic process of the invitation to and management of the competitions at The World Games that are in the hands of the international sports federations themselves.
Summary of The World Games
During the summer of 2022 another postponed Mega sporting event was held and this article focused on The World Games that was held in Birmingham, USA. The World Games is a multi-sport event for non-Olympic sports because there were few opportunities to become part of the Olympic programme, so non-Olympic federations formed their own showcase event to increase the publicity of their sports, which is called The World Games.
Existing infrastructure and venues in and around the host city are the determining factor in the selection of sports to the Official Sports Program. In addition, the IWGA, in coordination with the host city, can invite some sports to participate in the “invitational” programme.
The World Games is the second largest multi-sport event in the world after the Olympic Games. Competitions at the highest level in a multitude of diverse, popular and spectacular sports make up the mainstay of The World Games. Sports practiced on land, in the air, in and on the water, all concur in the pursuit of “Faster, Higher, Stronger”.
When and where is the next World Games?
Next up The World Games will be 2025 in Chengdu, China.