IWGA Interview of the Month: Guillaume Felli

IWGA Interview of the Month: Guillaume Felli

Improving Our Product

‘After The World Games’ is also ‘before The World Games’. In the IWGA Interview of the Month, Guillaume Felli, IWGA Head of Projects, describes the road to Chengdu. The twelfth edition of the event will take place from 7th to 17th August 2025 in the capital of Sichuan Province in China.

Are preparations for Chengdu already underway, or are you still evaluating Birmingham 2022?

Guillaume Felli: Actually we are currently working on our way to evaluate The World Games 2022 and have started the preparation of The World Games 2025 at the same time. Because of the postponement of our last edition by one year, we are now doing our very best to catch up for our event in Chengdu. Looking back to the very successful edition in Birmingham, we want to learn how successful we actually were. We have collected an important set of data during and post Games which is now being analysed. We are also working closely with an independent company, Quantum (based in the UK) which is working on the Games time assessment report, and other stakeholders (the Birmingham Organising Committee, Swiss Timing, ISB, etc.) to produce the fullest possible picture of how the Games were delivered. All reports and evaluations should be wrapped up by the end of 2022 at the latest. The World Games impact report will be available to the public, and it will provide great insight on the value of hosting The World Games.

Are there already issues learnt from the 2022 Games that will play a role in 2025?

Guillaume Felli: The IWGA strives to improve its product from edition to edition of The World Games, and each event allows us to identify areas of improvement to enhance the athletes’, officials’ and spectators’ experience for the following edition. In that sense, the feedback that we are collecting from our Member Federations is crucial, and extremely helpful in identifying what worked well and where we will need to pay special attention in the future to bring the entire product up to the next level. What we already know and agree on is that we want to enhance our cooperation with the National Sports Organisations and National Olympic Committees. What we have learned from the Games in 2022 is that to work with standardised procedures in the different fields makes it easier to for a host city to set up the event successfully. It’s not necessary to re-invent the wheel every time.

The dates for TWG 2025 have already been set: it will take place from 7th to 17th August 2025. When will you announce the sports programme?

Guillaume Felli: The sports programme will be ratified by the 2023 IWGA General Assembly, which will take place in May or June of 2023. The Member Federations will be requested to send us their applications for review and discussion from mid-November 2022 until the end of January 2023. Based on this, the IWGA Executive Committee will formulate a proposal to the Annual General Meeting for validation.

How are the Federations involved in the development of the sports programme?

Guillaume Felli: We want the application process to be a discussion and co-construction with the Member Federations, to select the disciplines that will bring the most added value to them and to the IWGA, based on the availability of venues in Chengdu. For this next edition we will pay special attention to the level of development of the sport/discipline in the host country (China), and how the Member Federations intend to take advantage of The World Games to further establish their presence in China.

Do you expect new disciplines to be included?

Guillaume Felli: Yes. The Member Federations have the opportunity to propose disciplines under their governance that have never been featured at The World Games. Moreover, The IWGA recently changed its rules and constitution in order to provide additional flexibility in the sports programme. We have reserved an additional quota for the host city and stakeholders such as the IOC and the International Paralympic Committee to propose sports/disciplines for inclusion. The selection of these additional sports/disciplines will follow close consultation with our partners, and will be subject to a strict set of criteria to ensure compliance with the rules of The World Games.

What are the other important milestones on the Road to Chengdu?

Guillaume Felli: The first Competition Manager’s Meeting (on site visit) is always an important milestone, which usually takes place 3 years before the Games. At the moment we are still working with our Chinese counterparts to find out when the IWGA will be able to travel to Chengdu for site visits. COVID restrictions are still on-going in China, and we have to take them into consideration in our planning.

As mentioned, another milestone will be the confirmation of the sports programme before the summer next year. After this we will work on the schedule. A first draft will be at hand most likely in the 3rd quarter of 2023. Our counterparts in Chengdu and our Member Federations will work in parallel on the confirmation of the respective venues. The qualification process will begin in the second half of 2023 and will last until the first quarter of 2025. The second and most important Competitions Managers Meeting on site will be in late 2024. As already established, we will invite the National Olympic Committees and the National Sports Organisations to a preparation meeting right after the Competitions Managers Meeting.

How are you building cooperation with IWGA’s partners in Chengdu?

Guillaume Felli: The IWGA enjoys excellent cooperation with the city of Chengdu as well as with the Chinese Olympic Committee. Both attended The World Games recently held in Birmingham. We put together an Observer Programme for the representatives of Chengdu 2025, and had the opportunity to discuss and review at length the next steps in the preparation of The World Games 2025. We had fruitful exchanges, and very much look forward to continuing the preparation in a spirit of co-construction and cooperation.

The World Games 2025 will be the first time that the guidelines from the strategy paper ‘Growth Beyond Excellence’ will be in place. What does that mean in concrete terms?

Guillaume Felli: We aim to keep increasing our brand recognition and improving our product and the Games-time experience for our athletes, officials, stakeholders and the public. While doing so, we are also paying special attention to improving our Governance principles. For example, we will publish for the first time a sustainability report, after having ratified the UN framework to combat climate change (UNFCCC), and we are in the process of implementing an Athletes’ Commission to further take into consideration the needs and well-being of our competitors.

The IWGA is now also present on Weibo - a Chinese social media platform. What ideas are you pursuing with this?

Guillaume Felli: The next edition of The World Games being in China, we have moved to strengthen our presence on Chinese-based social media platforms in order to increase awareness of our brand and product. Historically, China has had excellent results in the last three editions of The World Games, and we aim to develop the Chinese public’s interest in The World Games leading up to 2025.

 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.