"A Landmark Meeting"
“The AGM is about the future of our event and The World Games family.” In the Interview of the Month, President José Perurena gives a preview of the upcoming Annual General Meeting of the International World Games Association in Madrid on Wednesday, 3rd May. He states clearly that it will not be ‘just another day at the office’.
What is the significance of the AGM this year?
José Perurena: Without exaggeration, I can say that it will be a landmark meeting. Of course we will look back on The World Games 2022 in Birmingham, USA; we will enjoy this success once again for a few moments. But above all, it is about the future of our event and The World Games family. The elections for the Executive Committee (ExCo) until 2026 create the personnel conditions for this. Good ideas don't help if you don't have the right people to put them into practice. Then we will present the Sports Programme for the Games in Chengdu, People’s Republic of China, in 2025. Other future topics include plans for a streaming platform to achieve greater reach, and the unveiling of our new format, The World Games Series.
You have decided to run again for the office of IWGA President. What are your reasons for doing so?
José Perurena: First of all, I would like to answer selfishly: it is great fun to preside over The World Games family. The cooperation with the current ExCo has been characterized by team spirit and the common will to succeed. We have a small but strong team of staff who are really engaged to achieve the best for The World Games. Our member federations support us enormously. And then, meeting the athletes during the Games in Birmingham and feeling their joy is something I would not want to miss at all in the future. These moments give me the conviction that this is worth all the effort.
But it's not just about having fun, is it?
José Perurena: Of course not! In the questionnaire I filled out for my candidacy, I described my motivation like this: ‘Since the Games in 2017, the IWGA has been undergoing a transition period. I'm convinced that we will finish this process with the Games in Chengdu in 2025. I took the responsibility of initiating this transition period when first elected in my capacity as IWGA President, and consequently I want to finalize this process while still IWGA President. My goal has been, is and will be to establish the best possible environment for all of IWGA's integrated sports.’
The list of candidates standing for election convinces me that we will continue to have a team which will be able to complete this process we have started.
There will be changes in the Executive Committee, because Antonio Espinos and Max Bishop are not standing for re-election. What moved you when you heard about these decisions?
José Perurena: Regret, because we worked together really well and constructively. Understanding for the personal reasons and finally - and this feeling prevails - gratitude for the work done. This is especially true for Max Bishop. To put himself at the service of The World Games family as Vice-President for 17 years deserves great respect and recognition. I would like to speak of an era that is now coming to an end. What comforts me is that we will remain friends and Max will continue to give us advice.
I also understand that Antonio wants to dedicate all his time to Karate. He has a great challenge, and I understand that he wants to focus on this objective in the final stage of his term.
In any case, we will bid a fond and heartfelt farewell to Antonio and Max.
Another eagerly awaited item on the agenda will be the presentation of the Sports Programme. Will there be any surprises?
José Perurena: You will understand that I cannot go into details here. Our regulations stipulate that we, the Executive Committee, draw up a proposal. The ratification of this proposal will be made by our member federations. What I can say is that we will again have 30+ sports on the timetable in Chengdu. The Programme will follow the guidelines of our future concept Growth Beyond Excellence, which was adopted in 2019. This also means that in addition to the sports presented in Madrid, we will have other sports; they will be included in the programme at the suggestion of the hosts in Chengdu. Some of our federations have also applied with new disciplines – this shows that they are adapting their programmes to the developments in the world of sport. What is certain is that we will experience a highly attractive Games in a good two years’ time.
The hosts from Chengdu will participate in the AGM with their own delegation. What do you expect from their presentation?
José Perurena: Of course we want to hear about the state of preparations. With one year less to go because of the pandemic, the organisers in Chengdu are also under a certain time pressure. But we also understand that the city of Chengdu has other priorities in view of the FISU Games there this summer. Nevertheless we want to use the days in Madrid for talks, and I think that our federations are also interested in discussions with the host city.
You mentioned two other topics: The new streaming platform and The World Games Series. What are they all about?
José Perurena: Again, I don't want to pre-empt the meeting. What we have already communicated, for example during our media workshop in Lausanne at the beginning of March, is that together with ISB we want to ensure that the streams from our event reach the fans as directly as possible. The core idea is that the fans of a sport will find the streams of The World Games exactly where they also watch, for example, their World Championships or similar events. In addition, we want to reach out more to the national federations. What we now know is that such streaming does not reduce interest in watching an event on linear TV. On the contrary, the offer rather increases the interest.
We want to establish The World Games Series as a regular event, as an appetizer that shortens the waiting time for the fans on the road to the next Games. Our athletes deserve more global attention and promotion on media between TWGs.
The AGM will take place in Madrid. Why?
José Perurena (with a smile): So that the President has a home game and can travel to the meeting by bus and set a good example of sustainability. The Chair of our new Athletes’ Committee, Sandra Sanchez, is also from Madrid and could also travel with my colleague Antonio Espinos by bus!
A more serious answer: After it was not clear what would happen with the SportAccord Convention, we had to take the decision at our ExCo meeting in November 2022 to plan an AGM independently, as we did in 2022. This turned out to be a good idea. We already had good experiences here in 2022. Another point in favour of Madrid is that the city is a main hub and easy to reach. What we already know is that 34 of our 39 federations will be represented in person at the AGM. For all others, we have created the opportunity to follow the meeting remotely.
What is decisive for them to say at the end: "It was a good AGM"?
José Perurena: That's easy to answer. I am satisfied if all participants take away one thought: The World Games family is a good family, standing together and working together for a positive future for our event. And of course, it would be nice for me personally to be re-elected :)
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.