After The World Games 2001 in Akita, Japan, the event in 2009 was staged in Asia for the second time. Kaohsiung, the Host City for The World Games 2009 and one of the largest ports in the world, is situated in the south-east of Chinese Taipei. When asked about the special character of the Games in Kaohsiung, the answer is always the hospitality of the people, and in particular the helpfulness and enthusiasm of the more than 4,400 volunteers, who gave the event a special spirit.
The German bowler Achim Grabowski described it at the Athletes Party of The World Games 2009 as follows: "Duisburg 2005 was great. But the people here give me the feeling of being a sport superstar. That's unique." During the closing ceremony, IWGA President Ron Froehlich honoured the Host City as the organisers of "the best edition of The World Games ever".
Facts and figures: 26 sports, with a total of 146 medal events, were on the competition programme. There were 5 invitational sports, including Beach Handball which after 2009 has always been included in the main competition programme. The World Games 2009 had no new sport on the programme.
During the ten days of the event, 2,305 athletes in the competition programme and 603 athletes in the invitational sports programme competed for the medals. They came from 84 nations (80 in competition sports and 4 in invitational sports). Taking also the officials (such as judges and referees) into account, then the number of nations is 103.
As in 2001 in Akita, Japan and 2005 in Duisburg, Germany, Russia won the medal tally, this time with 18 gold medals. Second place went to Italy (16 gold medals) and third place to the People's Republic of China (14 gold medals). Eugenia Kanaeva from Russia, the Olympic Champion (2008 and 2012) in Gymnastics-Rhythmic All Around, was the most successful athlete of The World Games 2009, with four gold medals won in each of the four individual disciplines in Rhythmic Gymnastics.
The organisers used a total of 21 venues for the competition sports and 2 additional venues for the invitational sports. Only the main stadium, with 55,000 seats, was newly built for The World Games. It was used for the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as for competitions in Flying Disc and Rugby. The Opening Ceremony in the National Stadium was performed by Chinese Taipei President Ma.
800 accredited media representatives from 28 nations reported on The World Games in Kaohsiung. The survey company Meltwater registered in July 2009 more than 11,000 press articles on The World Games. The host broadcaster PTS produced content for 200 broadcasting hours. The opening and closing ceremonies were watched by more than 13 million people.
A total of 283,151 tickets were sold by the organisers. It was the best result so far and exceeded the ticket sale of TWG 2005 in Duisburg. For the Opening Ceremony 30,000 tickets were sold, with 21,000 for the Closing Ceremony, and thousands of people followed the celebrations on a big screen.
Dance Sport, which is very popular in Asia, had over 18,000 spectators on both days of the competition. Almost 40,000 spectators watched the Gymnastics competitions in the Kaohsiung Arena and the Cultural Centre. The Flying Disc matches were attended by over 46,000 spectators; more than 15,000 spectators attended the opening match between USA and Chinese Taipei on the first day of the competition. Never before had there been so many spectators at a Flying Disc competition.
The World Games Plaza, in the area near the harbour, was extremely popular. Almost 1.25 million visitors came to attend the evening cultural programmes, with additional presentations by sponsors and sports associations. Every night the events on the plaza ended with an amazing fireworks show.
When the IWGA in 2003 awarded The World Games 2009 to Kaohsiung, it was the first time in 60 years that Chinese Taipei was to be entrusted to host a large multi-sport event. The Organising Committee with President Chu Chen, Mayor of Kaohsiung, Managing Director Shyh-Feng Liu and CEO Cho-Chuan (Emily) Hsu, contributed greatly to the success of the event.
The cost of The World Games 2009 was $93 million, including $18 million for the renovation of existing venues. The total costs remained below the Organising Committee's budget estimate.
Following the example of Akita, Kaohsiung also chose a mascot in the form of twins. The mascots, representing a girl and a boy, were also used in the pictograms of the participating sports. Gao Mei and Syong Ge are named after the pronunciation of the name of the Host City, Kaohsiung (Koah=’Gao’, suing=’Syong’). They are intended to personify the city as ‘a city of the sea and the sun’ and to symbolise the friendliness and hospitality of the city's residents.
As part of the legacy of the Games, the logo of The World Games 2009 became the official city logo. After The World Games 2009, Kaohsiung has hosted several other major sporting events, such as competitions in Sumo and Dance Sport.
The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee. The 11th edition of The World Games will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 15-25 July 2021. 3,600 athletes from over 30 sports and 100 countries will take part in the Games.