IWGA Interview of the Month: Joachim Gossow, IWGA CEO

IWGA Interview of the Month: Joachim Gossow, IWGA CEO

No breathing space in 2023

In the year after The World Games 2022 in Birmingham, USA the International World Games Association is now focusing more closely on the 12th edition of the multi-sport event in Chengdu, Peoples Republic of China in 2025. In the Interview of the Month, IWGA CEO Joachim Gossow sets the agenda for 2023. And there really are a lot milestones on the road to Chengdu.

Mr. Gossow: Usually, the year after an edition of the Games is a little bit more peaceful. Is that also true for 2023?

Joachim Gossow: That may have been the case in the past. It definitely does not meet what we expect for 2023. We have a very tightly packed year ahead of us, with a number of milestones, and that's actually not surprising. After TWG 2022 was a year later than planned because of the pandemic, we now have to make up the time for TWG 2025 Chengdu. In addition, we are already planning for the future beyond 2025. There really is no breathing space.

Which milestone is the first?

Joachim Gossow: I would say the first highlight of the year is the awarding of the Athlete and Team of the Year titles. Online voting ends on 31 January. So far we have seen an exciting neck-and-neck race. These awards allows us to take look back to the Birmingham Games. All the candidates who have taken part in the voting were competing at The World Games 2022. After 1 February however, when the race is over, we are primarily looking ahead. In the background, preparations are already underway for our Annual General Meeting and the elections of the Board for the period 2023-2026.

What does that mean?

Joachim Gossow: Next month, my colleagues Guillaume Felli, Chantal Boehi, Sebastian Garvens and I will be travelling to Chengdu. We want to exchange ideas with our counterparts there and draw the road map for the Games, which will be held in the People’s Republic of China from 7th to 17th August 2025. This trip is of great importance. Due to the pandemic, we have not been to Chengdu since 2019. What we learned during the remote-meeting period is that many things can be handled via video conferencing. However there is no substitute for regular face-to-face meetings.

What will be on the agenda?

Joachim Gossow: We have a long list of topics. But the focus is not least on the sports programme for the 12th edition of our multisport event. Our Member Federations have submitted their applications to be on the programme. During our Board meeting in Madrid in January, the Executive Committee (ExCo) decided which sports and disciplines of our Member Federations shall be showcased. Our partners in Chengdu also have the opportunity to determine the inclusion of certain sports and disciplines. Together we will now work on a programme that meets all requirements, and also takes into account the interests of our hosts and the sports fans in China.

When will the programme be finalized?

Joachim Gossow: We will present our draft at the IWGA Annual General Meeting in Madrid in May. The Federations will then be called upon to ratify the programme. After that, we will make it public.

But I guess the AGM is not just about Chengdu?

Joachim Gossow: No, definitely not! As mentioned above, in May the members will decide on the persons who will lead the IWGA until 2026. We have postponed the Board elections, which were actually scheduled for 2022, to this year. This election is certainly of importance, because there are only two years left for the new ExCo to prepare TWG 2025 Chengdu, amongst other important items for the way ahead.

What does that mean?

Joachim Gossow: I'm talking about our strategy paper. We are going to achieve one of the goals already in the coming weeks. We will announce an Athletes' Committee which will be chaired by Sandra Sanchez, a karateka from Spain. With this Committee we want to give our athletes a greater influence on the further direction of our event. It is important to the ExCo to hear their opinion and to take their assessments into account in our decisions.

Speaking of the athletes, when do the qualifications for the Chengdu Games start?

Joachim Gossow: As I have said, first the sports programme has to be fixed. As soon as all the chosen Federations know that they are taking part, the qualification criteria are to be defined in consultation with us. We want to ensure that only the best athletes in a sport or discipline compete for medals at The World Games. That is one of our basic principles; The World Games brings together the best athletes from all over the world. In any case, I expect the qualification process to begin in the second half of this year for some Federations. But the ‘hot phase’ will then start in 2024.

What else do you have planned for 2023?

Joachim Gossow: We don't have fixed dates yet. But one thing is certain: in the second half of the year, we will meet with the Competition Managers of the Federations with sports on the programme in Chengdu. This Competition Managers’ Meeting is always the starting signal for the intensive preparation phase. This meeting always includes a venue inspection. The Federations can then discuss with the Local Organizing Committee how the stage can be set perfectly for their sport and their athletes. We look forward to this meeting with excitement, but also with anticipation. During these days, everyone feels that the Games are getting closer and all are part of it.

Is there more to come?

Joachim Gossow: We are currently working on another format: The World Games Series. In the time between the Games, we want to establish a condensed programme with our sports at different locations. This year, we plan to talk to interested host cities about their expectations and their possibilities. We see a TWG Series event that takes place over three or four days as an opportunity to offer our sports an additional, internationally recognized platform, and an opportunity for our Federations to use it as a qualification event. In addition, we see this new format as a valuable platform to promote our main event, The World Games.

Is there a question you would like to answer, but which has not yet been asked here?

Joachim Gossow: Perhaps this one: How are you going to manage all this? My answer: we have a team, Board and Staff at IWGA that is really on fire for The World Games. What we also find is that our partners - like our service partners ISB (International Sport Broadcasting), ST (Swiss Timing) and Sword Venue – are really committed to our event. Our counterparts in Chengdu, and also the National Olympic Committee of the People's Republic of China, are already showing great enthusiasm to deliver an outstanding Games in 2025. Last but not least, we also rely on our participating Member Federations. Their support is indispensable. They are increasingly aware of the opportunities The World Games offer them and their athletes. They want to take advantage of this opportunity in Chengdu. In other words, we demand that our athletes perform at their best; we can't demand anything less from ourselves.

 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.

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