20 February 2017
The pillars are set: 150 days to go!
150 days before the opening ceremony of TWG 2017 in Wrocaw/Poland (20 – 30 July), IWGA CEO informs about the state of preparations and the cooperation with the IOC.
It is now 150 days until the opening of the 10th edition of The World Games, in Poland. Please let us know where you are, on your way to Wroclaw?
Joachim Gossow: The major pillars are set. We have achieved good progress in all areas. In particular we are seeing close cooperation between the local Organising Committee and our international federations, doing the fine tuning that is needed on the fields of play in order to establish the right conditions for optimal performance.
Are you able to go into the details, when you say “the main pillars are set”?
Joachim Gossow: For example, the layout of the venues. We do not only look at the fields of play where the competitions will take place. We also look at the way everything around is set up with regard to TV production, and at the doping control, medical services for the athletes and much more. Secondly, it is important that we have established a good communication line to the host broadcaster, to ensure we are meeting its requirements. It is one of our goals to produce a high quality signal which can be delivered worldwide. We want to present the best impression of the athletes, of the sports and of the event itself.
We would like to know a little bit more about how TV production will be managed.
We will have cooperation between two very experienced TV companies. The first is ATM, one of the major broadcasters in Poland. They will prioritise pictures of national interest in Poland, as they have agreed to present The World Games on several channels and with a lot of broadcasting hours every day. Then also, with regard to international coverage and distribution, we are working together with the Spanish company ISB. They are remarkably well experienced in producing sport for TV. They did it for the Olympics, recently for the Rio games and also in London in 2012.
We have also received the news that the Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS) is interested in covering our event – not only on the Olympic Channel, but also over their social media platforms. This is a huge step forward for the international World Games federations. We have never before been able to announce that we have worldwide coverage of The World Games. This is definitely good news for our federations.
Do you see any problems or hiccups on the way to Wroclaw?
Actually we are seeing quite a lot of problems and hiccups right now. But this is what you have to expect, and be aware of, in this phase of preparation. Five months before the games, you start to get into the detail. And you know, the devil is in the detail. This is what we have seen in the past too. At this stage you have to discuss these matters with all the partners involved. We push on to get the banana skins out of the way.
I am convinced these will work out again this time. I expect that at least one month before The World Games, things will be running smoothly. We will then start to finalise the preparations, so as to have everything in place by 20th July when we will be holding the Opening Ceremony.
The qualification process is about to end. Do you have some figures for us?
Yes, we are at the final stage regarding accreditation: there are just a few results missing. But this was agreed with our federations in advance. They had to go into their calendars to decide on qualification events. They want to identify the best athletes to take part in the competitions. We require this, for this is one our qualities. The World Games present only the best athletes or team in each discipline.
Asking for an exact number? Please come back after the event! We all know there are always some drop-outs because of injuries or health reasons. For this reason we cannot provide exact numbers. What I can say is: we will have 27 sports on the official programme, that is one more compared to Cali 2013, and four sports on the invitational programme, one less than Cali. We expect about 3,500 athletes from more than 100 nations. Right now we have athletes from 102 nations on our qualification list.
What are the most important milestones coming up?
One of these will be our AGM at the SportAccord Convention in Aarhus, Denmark in April. We are now on our way to collecting all the pieces of information which are needed from IFs, in order to present a comprehensive picture at the AGM. Before this there is another important date. At the beginning of March we will open the accreditation system for our International Federations. This system will be provided by our partner Swiss Timing. From March onwards, IFs will be able to key in the entries of all qualified athletes.
How would you describe the collaboration between you and the IOC, which recognises the IWGA as a partner?
Firstly let me say that we are very pleased to announce that the IOC President Dr. Thomas Bach will attend the Opening Ceremony. And he will stay for another day in order to experience some of the competitions. This is a benefit for the local Organising Committee. We are sure that the attendance of the IOC President will raise some awareness. We had the pleasure of welcoming Mrs Jenny Mann from the IOC Sports Department to one of our preparation meetings in Wroclaw. It was a valuable exchange of information, not only for her but also for the Wroclaw Organising Committee.
We have regular meetings with the IOC, discussing the issues of the day and strategic matters with regard to how we can best provide for our sports. Please bear in mind that Karate and Sport Climbing, two of our sports, will be on the programme of the Tokyo Games in 2020. We have to discuss very carefully how we can make sure that these federations can take part both in our games and the Olympics.
At our recent meeting we talked about the current World Games. There will be a delegation from the IOC which will attend the event as observers. They will get some experience and a better feeling for what we are talking about in comparing the World Games with the Olympics.
Are there any benefits for the IOC from this cooperation?
They can take a closer look at our sports, and make up their minds on if and how they can benefit future Olympics, or could participate in the games as invitational sports. We try to prepare for this with common meetings.
How do you benefit?
We can learn something when we look at things at a formal and administrative level. But it’s hard to compare the IWGA with the IOC. Not only with regard to size; we also have to look at responsibilities. We have a direct responsibility for our member federations, which are international sports federations. The IOC works with the National Olympic Committees. There is a different structure. This means that we cannot say: “let’s do it like the IOC, let’s copy their kind of working.” This is not possible. We have to look at developments and decide on our own way to take the next steps. And we must maintain our own identity!
IWGA President Jose Perurena mentioned that he is anticipating an outstanding event, or even the best World Games ever. How would you describe the criteria for this?
Please allow me to go back to previous events where we could identify a special momentum. For instance in Cali in 2013, this momentum was the way that the spectators and the local citizens embraced the event. This enthusiasm inspired our athletes. In Kaohsiung in 2009 we saw perfect organisation in all areas of service. In Duisburg in 2005 we had the situation that the athletes could feel all the emotions and felt very comfortable with the atmosphere of the games.
So looking now on Poland, The World Games this summer gives not only the city of Wroclaw but also the whole country the opportunity to show their hospitality. They can showcase to the world of sport that they are great hosts. This can be done by giving The World Games the right atmosphere.
But most important when it comes to setting benchmarks: the organisation has to set the stage for the athletes. It is they who are in the limelight, and they must be able to perform in the best way possible.