The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the International World Games Association brought crucial decisions for the future of the Games. On Wednesday 3rd May 2023 in Madrid, the delegates from 31 of the 39 Member Federations elected the Executive Committee (ExCo) until 2026 and ratified the Sports Programme for The World Games 2025 in Chengdu, People’s Republic of China. IOC Vice President Juan Antonio Samaranch attended the meeting as a guest. Also on the podium was Sandra Sanchez, Chair of the newly-formed IWGA Athletes Committee. IOC President Thomas Bach tuned into the session with a greeting message via video. Also via video message, Nick Sellers, CEO of the Birmingham Organizing Committee, provided information on the final tasks before the books can be closed for TWG 2022.
Here are the most important decisions and topics:
José Perurena to lead IWGA for another three years
In the Executive Committee elections, President José Perurena received an overwhelming majority to lead the IWGA for another three years. The Spaniard José Perurena has led The World Games family since 2014. The new Vice President is Tom Dielen, Secretary General of World Archery. Jörn Verleger (President of the International Fistball Association), who originally wanted to run as a candidate, withdrew his candidacy during the meeting. Lukas Hinder (Honorary Life President, World DanceSport Federation) remains Treasurer; Hinder has been in this post since 1998. Also confirmed as ExCo members were Anna Arzhanova (World Underwater Federation), Volker Bernardi (World Flying Disc Federation) and Jan Fransoo (International Korfball Federation). John Liljelund (International Floorball Federation) is a new member of ExCo; Liljelund replaces Antonio Espinos who did not stand for re-election.
Read more about the ExCo elections here.
30 sports for TWG 2025 in Chengdu, China
During the AGM, IWGA Sports Director Sebastian Garvens gave information about the Sports Programme for the 12th edition of The World Games from 7th to 17th August 2025 in Chengdu, People's Republic of China. The IWGA Executive Committee has selected a total of 30 sports for the Games in two years' time. The General Assembly ratified this proposal. The martial arts sport SAMBO celebrates its come-back at the Games after more than 32 years. In 1985 in London, Great Britain, and in 1993 in The Hague, the Netherlands, SAMBO fighters competed for gold at The World Games. At that time, however, the sport was part of the Invitation Programme of both editions. Sebastian Garvens also presented the short-list of additional sports. These sports and disciplines belong to the para-sports sector, or may be included in the TWG 2025 programme at the suggestion of the host city Chengdu.
All sports for Chengdu can be found here.
An old and at the same time new Federation
The IWGA delegates voted unanimously to accept the World Petanque and Bowls Federation (WPBF). Petanque has belonged to the IWGA since 1983; at that time it was named Federation International de Petanque and Jeu Provencal (FIPJP). Nevertheless an official decision on a new admission was necessary. The background is that the predecessor federation Confédération Mondiale des Sports de Boules (CMSB), founded in 1985, has reorganised itself. Max Bishop, Vice-President of the IWGA, explained: "This is not a simple change of name, but actually a new organisational unit.” In this respect, an official new admission of a long-standing member federation would then be necessary – and was granted at the AGM.
Standing ovation for Max Bishop
IWGA President José Perurena thanked Antonio Espinos, President of World Karate, for his commitment as a member of the IWGA Executive Committee. The Spaniard had served on the ExCo for five years. Max Bishop received a special honour during the AGM. After 17 years in office, the Vice President has stepped down. The delegates of the AGM thanked Max Bishop with a standing ovation for his great service to The World Games family. Max Bishop had - as he himself said - often taken care of the boring but important items. Among them were amendments to the Constitution and By-Laws. José Perurena presented a farewell gift. A “good-bye video” let out in many voices what can be summed up in three words: "Thank you, Max".
Start of The World Games Series
Guillaume Felli, Deputy CEO of the IWGA, gave an update on the progress of the launch of The World Games Series. This Festival of Sport is intended to shorten the waiting time between two editions of The World Games. During the three to four-day event, top athletes will compete in five to six of The World Games sports. Five editions of the TWG Series are planned in the period up to the Games in Chengdu. If possible, the inaugural edition will take place in November 2023.
Sandra Sanchez represented the IWGA Athletes Committee
In February the IWGA founded its Athletes Committee. A total of seven athletes are working to ensure that the interests of the participants in The World Games are heard more. Sandra Sanchez (Karate) was appointed as chair. The six other members of this committee are: Cate Philips from Australia (Flying Disc), Andrés Acuña from Costa Rica (Racquetball), the Swiss Floorball player Matthias Hofbauer, the Indian archer Verma Abishek, Justyna Możdżonek from Poland (DanceSport) and the Canadian Powerlifter Rhea Stinn. The appearance of karateka Sandra Sanchez (two-time champion in The World Games and Olympic gold medalist) at the AGM therefore had a symbolic character.
In her speech she made it clear that the IWGA is listening to the voice of the athletes. Jan Fransoo, who works as an ExCo member with the Athletes Committee, said about the further plans: “In 2025, the Committee is to be directly elected by the participants in the Games. The Chair of the Committee will then also have a seat and a vote in the ExCo.”
Review and preview
At the AGM, IWGA CEO Joachim Gossow and Krzysztof Kropielnicki from Quantum Consultancy looked back on TWG 2022 in Birmingham, USA. Joachim Gossow quoted José Perurena: "Things may be hot in the kitchen, but it is the dish served in the restaurant that is decisive. And the dinner was delicious.” The CEO thus recalled the organisational challenges during the Games from 7th to 17th July 2022 in Alabama. Joachim Gossow also pointed out that the athletes in particular were very satisfied with TWG 2022. Krzysztof Kropielnicki presented the survey commissioned by the IWGA and the BOC. One finding was the enthusiasm and pride of the citizens of Birmingham in having hosted the world sport event. From the survey: “The World Games 2022 were embraced by the locals. In numbers: more than 140,000 spectators watched the decisions in 223 medal events.” The media exposure was ‘respectable’ as well: When it comes to numbers, the survey states that there were 1,639 hours of broadcast time across 61 TV territories, and there was 186 million online-media reach as well as 335 million social-media reach.
For the upcoming hosts of the Games in 2025, Ms. Lin, Senior Staff, Competition Department of Chengdu Sports Bureau, presented the state of preparation in Chengdu, CHN. Of particular interest to the delegates was that Chengdu has a total of 30 venues (20 indoor, 7 outdoor and 3 water sports facilities) to choose from to provide a perfect stage for the competitions during the Games. The possible locations for the TWG Village and the TWG Plaza were also presented by Ms. Han. Fun Fact: Chengdu has ranked No. 1 on the list of ‘Happiest Cities in China’ for 14 years in a row.
Honouring the Athlete and the Team of the Year 2022
On behalf of Valeria Cardenas (23) from Colombia and Team Germany, Robert "Nob" Rauch, President of the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF), accepted the trophies for the IWGA Athlete and Team of the Year Award. The World Flying Disc Federation was pleased to receive the double honour in 2023. The two candidates of this sport had prevailed against strong competition in the online voting. Anna Jacobson, Communications Officer of the IWGA, recalled the exciting race for the title Athlete of the Year. It was only on the home stretch, after several changes of the lead in the last hour, that the Colombian Valeria Cardenas won against Muaythai fighter Monika Chochlikova (27) from Slovakia. President Rauch had contributed to the success and personally mobilised the Flying Disc community once again during the final sprint. Anna Jacobson stated that this year’s campaign gained a lot of awareness on social and digital media thanks to the communities of the participating athletes and teams. Thus another winner of the campaign was the IWGA, in launching the voting with great success.
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.