IWGA Interview of the Month

IWGA Interview of the Month

The principle of universality

2021 is the year of qualifying for the 11th edition of The World Games. Sebastian Garvens, IWGA Head of Games Services, describes how the top athletes in their sport or discipline can secure their ticket for the multi-sport event, to be held from 7th to 17th July 2022 in Birmingham, Alabama.

Please give us some numbers: How many athletes (women/men) for how many competitions in how many sports?

We’re currently planning for slightly over 3,600 athletes coming from around 100 nations competing in 30+ sports, 58 disciplines and 223 medal events. The event programme was released on 7th July 2020, two years prior to the Opening Ceremony of The World Games 2022. You can find it here.

Who nominates the participants?

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 the selection events of their International Federations (IF), such as World Cups or World Championships. 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.

According to what criteria?

Qualification criteria are established by the participating International Sports Federations in accordance with the Qualification System Guidelines. The principle of universality is reflected in our qualification systems, where we seek to achieve a satisfactory balance between performance and the fair representation of as many as possible nations and continents. In principle, athletes in each sport will come from at least three different continents and very often, the host country will be represented in the competitions.

When will qualification for The World Games 2022 begin? Does the postponement to 2022 affect qualification? When will the last participants be determined? Are there already athletes nominated?

A small number of sports, such as Korfball and Softball, have already determined most of those qualified for their teams. Some qualification events have already taken place, but the vast majority of them have not started yet. It is quite common that qualification only takes place in the year and months prior to the big event. Therefore we hope that many competitions in our participating sports can take place, but we need to be realistic because of the pandemic. Ideally qualifications, reallocation of quota places and nominations will finish by the end of March 2022.

The pandemic has not been defeated yet. Does this have an impact on the competitions? How are you exchanging information with the federations about the current situation?

COVID-19 has affected the qualification process across all sports and disciplines very much. As yet, nobody knows how viable it is to organise competitions, and therefore we’re in constant contact with the IFs, most of which have been planning on multiple scenarios. Qualifications may date back to 2019 or even before, considering that for some sports, no (major) competitions have taken place since then. We do discuss the process with the IFs if necessary, but of course the federations are the experts in identifying a suitable, fair solution for the athletes. We have also planned a deadline for when participants need to be determined, but of course we will need to be as flexible as our participating sports in adjusting to the developing situation, considering the global dimension of this pandemic and the costs that need to be borne. As in the past, we will not impose any major decisions on the IFs, but try to find the best overall solutions in joint collaboration.

Is there a question I forgot to ask but you want to answer?

Of course there are a lot of challenges that have come with COVID-19. It has been a very challenging year, with new lessons to be learnt, and some necessary innovation put in place to overcome the obstacles. However the postponement has given us time to make efforts and develop in other areas that hadn’t been in our focus. From the Federation side, we learn that they have also taken advantage of the competition-free time to do some house-keeping - and sometimes change their ways of doing things.

 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, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from over 30 sports and 100 countries will take part in The World Games.

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