Birmingham, USA 2022

Back in the USA

The 11th edition of The World Games took place in Birmingham, Alabama, USA from 7th to 17th July 2022. This edition, originally planned for 2021, was postponed to 2022 because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Games celebrated their première in 1981 in Santa Clara, California, and now, a little more than 40 years later, the Games returned to the USA. One of the special features of this event was that, for the first time in the history of The World Games, one discipline that belongs to the para-sport sector was included in the programme: Wheelchair Rugby. In addition, disabled athletes (1 per gender) competed in Archery within their regular Target Compound competition. The Birmingham Organizing Committee (BOC), led by CEO Nick Sellers, aimed to ensure a high level of inclusion through its partnership with the Lakeshore Foundation, a training facility of the Olympic and Paralympic Federation.

Here are some figures of the 11th edition of the multi-sport event that was held 7–17 2022 July in Alabama:

  • We saw 3,459 athletes from 99 nations compete.
  • We witnessed outstanding performances in 34 sports, 58 disciplines and 223 medal events.
  • We enjoyed the thrilling atmosphere at 23 venues.
  • 375,000 spectators created this special atmosphere: for the feeling of being in Sweet Home Alabama.
  • Those who could not be present in the stadium watched on the screen. ISB, our host broadcaster, produced 640 hours of TV pictures of the Games with more than 300 employees from 21 countries.
  • These images were shown on TV in more than 80 countries, including the USA, China, Germany and Ukraine, as well as throughout South America.
  • Those who could not watch the Games on TV used to stream the thrilling performances of The World Games 2022. In short, the whole world was watching the athletes perform at their best.
  • 750 media representatives had accredited for the Games. By far the majority came from the United States.
  • 32 National Olympic Committees or National Sports Organizations were present in Birmingham to support the athletes from their countries.
  • To make sure that everyone knew what the score was, what time was run or not run, or what points were awarded by the judges, the Result Module from Swiss Timing provided prompt service. It can be accessed through on our website.
  • We experienced the tireless efforts of 3,000 volunteers who made the athletes feel that Southern Hospitality comes from the heart and shows up with a smile.
  • Germany won the medal standings for the first time at The World Games with 24 gold, 7 silver and 16 bronze medals. Team USA used the home advantage and came second with 16 gold, 18 silver and 10 bronze medals. Ukraine came in third (16/12/17). Germany is now ranked two (behind Italy) in the overall medal tally of all 11 editions.
  • We rejoice with 73 countries that won a medal at The World Games. That is a new record number, and there for several who won their first medal ever: Brunei, Panama, India, Tunisia and Virgin Islands, USA.
  • Johana VIVEROS MONDRAGON from Colombia won four times gold and once silver in Speed Skating. She was the athletes with most medals at The World Games 2022. Nina HOLT from Germany won four times gold and one bronze in Life Saving.
  • Bart SWINGS (Belgium) is the first athlete to win gold at both the Olympic Games and The World Games in the same year. In Birmingham, the speed skater won four gold and one bronze. Earlier this year, in February, he won Olympic gold in Ice Skating.
  • We saw how the powerlifter Yukoko Fukushima won gold for the first time at her sixth edition of The World Games. The legendary powerlifter proved that perseverance pays off.
  • The Dutch in Korfball, on the other hand, know no dry spell. They took part for the tenth time and won gold for the tenth time.
  • The first gold medal of the Games went to the Colombian skater Geiny Pajaro, who won the 200 meters time trial at 9:43 am on Friday 8th July. The last one was awarded to the Men’s Canoe Polo Team from Germany on Sunday 18th July at 3:15pm.
  • A new sport on the programme was Wheelchair Rugby – this was the first time a para-sport was on the programme of The World Games. Drone Racing (Air Sports), Breaking (DanceSport), Parkour (Gymnastics) and Flag Football (American Football) made their debut as new disciplines in Birmingham, Alabama.
  • And another premiere: The World Games were introducing EGaming for the first time. Fans could try their hand at the virtual versions of our sports Archery, Baseball and Racquetball.
  • Birmingham's Mayor Randall Woodfin officially opened the Games on 7 July and IWGA President José Perurena ceremoniously closed them on 17 July.
  • IOC President Thomas Bach said during his visit: "If the athletes are happy, we're happy." What we heard from the athletes was: "We are very happy here in Birmingham." The response from the athletes on social media was also overwhelmingly positive.
  • An emotional moment: The 98 athletes from Ukraine were greeted with a standing ovation by the 27,000 spectators as they entered Protective Stadium for the Opening Ceremony.
  • Sergey Bubka, the President of the Ukrainian NOC, received a cheque for 54,000 dollars from the hands of the Chair of the Birmingham Organising Committee, Jonathan Porter. From each ticket and merchandise item sold since April 2022, the organisers had donated one dollar for the reconstruction of sports facilities in Ukraine.
  • The President of the USA, Joe Biden, sent a letter to the athletes and organisers with words of encouragement and appreciation.
  • Chengdu, People's Republic of China invited us to celebrate the 12th edition of The World Games in 2025.

For the first time, the Haudenosaunee team in Lacrosse represented an indigenous ethnic group. The distribution between women and men was about 50:50. Thirty-four sport were included in the ten days of competition.

In 2017 Kickboxing was an invitational sport; in 2022 this martial arts sport was part of the official programme for the first time. Softball (women), for the first time since 1985, was again presented on the main stage; in 2009 and 2013 the teams competed in the invitational sports programme.

The renovation of the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Complex was completed by then, providing the athletes with optimal conditions for competition. TWG 2022 also had the Sloss Furnaces Park, with the impressive backdrop of a former ironworks plant, as an exceptional competition venue. The Railroad Park in the heart of the city was the start and finish of Duathlon and Orienteering competitions. In the concert hall of the Jefferson Civic Complex, the sound of dumbbells was heard in Powerlifting competition.

The City of Birmingham was awarded the contract to host the 2021 Games in 2015. The largest city in the state of Alabama (approx. 650,000 inhabitants) beat Lima (Peru) and UFA (Russia) in the final round. Part of the concept was that the organisers would largely forego public funding and would finance the budget of a calculated 60 million dollars through private partnerships. Birmingham also had the university's student accommodation available for the athletes, so for the first time there was a kind of ‘TWG village’. Also for the first time, participants and fans got all information about the Games via a special app designed for The World Games.

As mascots, the organisers had chosen figures based on the Roman gods Vulcan and Vesta. The figure of Vulcan refers to the Vulcan statue, Birmingham, Alabama's colossal statue, which is the world's largest cast iron statue and considered one of the most memorable works of civic art in the United States.

Event Dates

Opening Ceremony 7 July 2022

Competition 8-17 July 2022

TWG Plaza 8-17 July 2022

TWG Athletes Night 13 July 2022

Closing Ceremony 17 July 2022