The International Word Games Association has given preliminary consideration to integrating disabled athletes in The World Games 2021 in Birmingham, Alabama. As IWGA is in the run up to this year’s event, The World Games 2017 in Wroclaw, Poland, serious discussions will get under way immediately afterwards.
As the profile of para-sports has risen, IWGA has considered how to include the disabled athletes of its Member Federations in the future. “We are well on our way to developing a concept which opens our multi-sports-event for these athletes,” explained IWGA CEO Joachim Gossow. An independent investigation in 2016 addressed the topic in regard to existing and possible concepts of sport events. Distinguished experts from the Olympic movement as well as its main stakeholders were consulted. The concept of having disabled and able-bodied athletes competing at the same place and the same time is very common in the World Cup events of IWGA’s Member Federations and strongly recommended by the experts.
Joachim Gossow: “We hope that we can integrate para-sport competitions in the 11th edition of The World Games in 2021 in Birmingham/Alabama. We will do it in close cooperation with our partners in the USA. Right now we are laying out the road map for the idea of Para World Games. We can already see that there are lots of decisions to make. We have to establish a decent framework before working on detailed plans.”
For instance, there is no international entity, such as the International Paralympic Committee, that unifies disabled athletes of non-Olympic sports with different disabilities. This means that IWGA must serve as an international platform for disabled athletes competing in The World Games. In discussion with the 37 IWGA member federations the IWGA sports department has to identify which disciplines may be eligible for The World Games. Qualification criteria have to be set up. And of course all the proposals have to be approved at one of the upcoming Annual General Meetings of the IWGA. In general, the plans provide for integrating competitions for disabled athletes in the main program.
“It’s clear for us that we don’t want to create a separate event for disabled athletes. Instead we want to integrate disabled sports into The World Games’ program,” said Mr Gossow. As all facilities in the United States have to be accessible by law, The World Games 2021 offers an excellent opportunity to implement this step forward.