Since their very first edition in Santa Clara in 1981, The World Games have become one of the most important global multi-sport events in the world. Thousands of the world’s best athletes compete for gold. With the event happening only every four years, the 11-day event aspires to equal and exceed the importance of World Championships for the represented sports and disciplines. For many athletes, The World Games is pinnacle event of their sporting career. There is no higher goal to achieve in than to become The World Games Champion.
In mutual collaboration with the International World Games Association (IWGA), the Member Federations and the Host City, the best possible experience for both athletes and fans is delivered at every edition.
For The World Games 2022, about 3’600 world-class athletes from about 100 countries competed in 223 medal events for gold.
Since the very first edition in 1981, the event has been staged with existing or temporary infrastructure in and around the host city. This availability is a determining factor in the selection and composition of sports, disciplines and events in the programme. The IWGA comprises 39 International Sports Federations. Different to other sporting event, not all sports will automatically be part of the programme.
In order to innovate and modernise the Games, participating sports showcase innovative formats and attractive presentations at the Games. Every Sports Programme is fully adapted to the identity, characteristics and existing infrastructure in and around the host city. Therefore, the sports programme changes from one edition to the next.
Up to and including The World Games 2022, invitational sports selected and invited by the host city have been able to feature on the programme of the Games. To promote sport for all, the IWGA also encourages grassroots events around the official programme and the display programme.
The maximum permitted number of participants (including athletes and technical officials) for the official sports programme of The World Games 2022 is 3’800 plus invitational sports programme (up to 800), defined in consultation between the IWGA and the Host City.
From TWG 2025 onwards, the total amount of participants will be increased to 5000. The official programme will include sports selected in consultation with the International Olympic Committee (IOC – up to 400) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC – up to 200).
While many sports and disciplines of The World Games have joined the Olympic Games, only events feature at The World Games that are not on the full programme of the immediately preceding Summer or Winter Olympic Games or Paralympic Games.
All athletes participating at the event are the best in the world in their respective disciplines. To compete at The World Games, they need to qualify through select events of the International Federations, such as World Cups or World Championships. Qualification criteria are established by the participating International Sports Federations after the sports programme is determined. The principle of universality is reflected in qualification systems, seeking to achieve a satisfactory balance between the performance and the fair representation of as many as possible nations and continent.
In contrast to other sports events where the national sports organisations, such as National Olympic Committees, are responsible for the nomination process, International and National Federations fill this role at The World Games.
Apart from the competitions, there are a number of activities organised for the athletes.
The Opening Ceremony hosted in a main stadium or other outdoor venue marks the beginning of The World Games. A parade of the participating federations is followed by the athletes’ parade by nation. Artistic and cultural elements are presented as part of the program. After the IWGA and other flags are hoisted, the Games are declared open.
Similar to the Opening Ceremony, the Closing Ceremony includes cultural and official elements. Athletes enter the selected area by sport. The symbolic hand-over between the current and future host city through the IWGA president closes The World Games edition. A social gathering involving athletes, officials and organisers follows the Closing Ceremony
Between the Opening and Closing Ceremony, the Athletes Night is the main side event in the middle of the Games. Just like both ceremonies, creative and cultural elements are a main part of the programme. However, there is no official part. The Athletes Night is mainly dedicated to those athletes who miss the two official ceremonies.
Athletes and officials will take part in at least either the Opening Ceremony, Athletes Night or the Closing Ceremony.
The World Games Plaza is the epicentre of the event, connecting athletes with each other as well as fans and spectators in a friendly atmosphere. The Plaza is home to cultural events such as concerts, food stands, and the TWG merchandising shops. The Sports Garden is an integral part of the Plaza, inviting visitors to experience themselves sporting activities.
The Sports Garden, where visitors are invited to experience sporting activities themselves, is an integral part of the Plaza. The Sports Garden invites the visitor to experience and practice the sports of The World Games, and other sports invited by the Local Organising Committee.
The World Games Plaza is open over the whole duration of the Games.