The martial art sport SAMBO returns to the big stage of The World Games – this time as one of 30 official sports of The World Games 2025, to be held from 7th to 17th August 2025 in Chengdu, People’s Republic of China. On Wednesday 3rd May during the Annual General Meeting in Madrid, the Executive Committee (ExCo) of the International World Games Association (IWGA) unveiled the programme for the 12th edition of the Games. SAMBO can present itself in Chengdu as the only new sport compared to the Games in Birmingham, USA in 2022. The AGM ratified the ExCo's proposal for the programme.
Finswimming, Gymnastics, Karate, Powerlifting, Roller Sports, Tug of War and Waterski form the small circle of sports that have found The World Games Champions at every edition since the inauguration in 1981 in Santa Clara, USA.
As a member federation of the IWGA, SAMBO will make its competition debut at TWG 2025. The federation has been part of The World Games family since 2021. The martial arts sport previously presented itself at The World Games in 1985 and 1993. However, at the third edition in London, Great Britain, and the fourth one in The Hague, Netherlands, athletes competed for gold of The World Games only as an Invitational Sport. The results were not included in the medal table at that time. In 2025, SAMBO will be an official sport for the first time.
In addition, there are other sports taking part in Chengdu: Air Sports, Archery, Billiards Sports, Boules, Canoe, DanceSport, Fistball, Floorball, Flying Disc, Beach Handball, Ju-Jitsu, Kickboxing, Korfball, Lacrosse, Life Saving, Muaythai, Orienteering, Racquetball, Softball, Sport Climbing, Squash, and Wushu.
No decision was announced by the IWGA during the AGM on which disciplines the sports will be represented with during the Games in just over two years. "We already have a very concrete idea, and are in close communication with our member federations about the disciplines and medal events. But we also know that there can be changes for some sports, therefore we will announce the final composition of the programme later this year," explained IWGA Sports Director Sebastian Garvens.
During the AGM, Garvens also announced which sports and disciplines may complete the programme at the invitation of the host city Chengdu. These are: American Football (Flag Football), Cheerleading, Dragon Boat, Duathlon and Roller Sports (Free Style). Flag Football and Duathlon were already on the programme of the 2022 Games.
"Inclusiveness is one of our basic principles”, Garvens said. “We will stick to that when we celebrate a festival of sports in August 2025." At the 2022 Games in Birmingham, Wheelchair Rugby was on the programme, invited by the host city. This sport is one of the possible candidates. Others are: Wheelchair Dance, Para Ju-Jitsu, Freediving Disabled.
As proposals of the Host City there are on the shortlist: Flag Football, Cheerleading, Dragon Boat, Duathlon, Freestyle Inline. As another proposal by the IWGA ExCo Powerboating was presented to the IF delegates at the AGM.
The procedure for the Games in 2025 follows the guidelines of the "Growth Beyond Excellence" strategy paper for the first time. For The World Games, it provides that member federations can apply for the disciplines they propose for participation in the next edition. The decision on sports and disciplines is made by the ExCo after review by the IWGA Sports Department. Ratification takes place at the AGM. Other sports and disciplines can be included on the proposal of the host city. The quota of 5,000 participants must not be exceeded.
The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association, organised with the support of the International Olympic Committee. The World Games 2022 was held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from 34 sports and 100 countries took part in the Games. The 12th edition of The World Games will be held in Chengdu, CHN in 2025.