The World Games 1981 in Santa Clara was first and foremost a pioneer event, testing the concept. The City of Santa Clara was not a Host City in the sense that the city was involved in the organisation of the event. The World Games officials had found an excellent venue in the facilities and accommodation of the Santa Clara University which they rented, together with some other venues, from the city.
The World Games participants did not know what to expect from this new event. When they entered Santa Clara University, they felt like arriving in an “Olympic village”, as all sports were hosted together on the campus of the SCU. The meals in the dining hall of the campus were a great experience, as the participants met face-to-face with their fellow World Games competitors from other sports. The participants of World Games I were hosted for the full period of the event, so all participants were present at the Opening in the Buck Shaw Stadium. The games were opened by Mr. Thomas Keller, President of the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) who read out the greetings of the President of the United States of America, Mr. Ronald Reagan.
The competitors focused primarily on the matches with the top-class athletes of their own sport. After the athletes finished their competitions, they visited the other sport venues, to cheer the performances of their fellow World Games competitors. The competitions in Santa Clara were excellent tournaments with sadly very few spectators, as the residents of the City of Santa Clara were totally unaware of the event; there had been no publicity whatsoever.
Though the participants were happy with the event, the World Games organization encountered major financial problems. The event could only continue through the financial assistance of the West Nally Group (a marketing company led by Patrick Nally). In return for giving financial assistance for World Games I, the West Nally Group obtained the commercial rights of the World Games events.
The participants of the World Games 1981 were proud to have been part of a great event. At home, however, they found that nobody, with the exception of their parents and wives, had any knowledge of the World Games and certainly not of their performance and results at the World Games in Santa Clara.
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