“Germany can do it. Duisburg shows it!” The ambitious claim was made by the Duisburg Organizing Committee ahead of the games. Falling midway between marketing pitch and political statement, the catchy slogan put the hosts under considerable pressure when it came down to delivering “the biggest sports event in 2005”. After the dust had finally settled, all involved agreed: The Seventh World Games were successful in every respect. And hype was certainly not the reason. Four cities, a federal state and the entire Federal Republic jointly wrote the World Games script that stands to influence the development of future editions.
Ron Froehlich, the President of the International World Games Association, provides the insider’s view on a milestone event.
For us, the sanctioning body IWGA, 2005 Duisburg was a resounding success in the most crucial of all areas: it satisfied 3,294 athletes. If an athlete, one who was fortunate enough to compete in Athens 2004 as well as in 2005 Duisburg, was able to do away with the comparison the media had insisted on from day one – Olympic versus "non-Olympic" Games – through credible declarations, he honored The World Games. “In terms of atmosphere, team spirit and fascinations of the competition, there was no difference whatsoever,” Henrik Stehlik, gold medalist in the synchro trampoline of 2005 Duisburg and bronze medalist in the individual trampoline of the 2004 Olympics, summed up his World Games experience. “This gold is by no means a second-class medal,” the 24-year-old German athlete stressed the sporting relevance of 2005 Duisburg. In fact, the International Gymnastics Federation assigns The World Games a higher sporting value than it does the annual world championships, and it limits participation in the synchro trampoline event to the 12 best pairs of the world ranking list.
2005 Duisburg confirmed that the overall direction was well chosen by the IWGA in its efforts to develop The World Games. Diverse sport performed at the highest level is a formula capable to captivate the public's interest. One third of the sports featured in Duisburg registered sell-out crowds. More than 500,000 people were recorded at the turnstiles. “I understood the ‘fasciNATIONS worldgames’ when we had to print an additional 800 tickets for the tug of war event,” Dr. Peter Langner, chief executive of World Games 2005 Ltd., reported on the best attendance ever. The mass media did their part: 1,200 media representatives were accredited to cover the contests in 32 official and six invitational sports. Virtually all of the sports were given good airtime on West German Broadcasting WDR, on ARD and ZDF, on Eurosport, even on Chinese CCTV.
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