IWGA Interview of the Month: Tom Dielen, IWGA Vice President

IWGA Interview of the Month: Tom Dielen, IWGA Vice President

Sport needs to be Part of the Solution

Tom Dielen became Vice President of the International World Games Association on 3rd May 2023; the Secretary General of World Archery has replaced Max Bishop in this role. In the IWGA Interview of the Month, Tom Dielen describes the challenges and opportunities for further development of The World Games.

How does it feel to be Vice President of the IWGA?

Tom Dielen: Excited, and conscious of the challenges ahead. I am really looking forward to working with the Board and the staff to build The World Games into an even better product. I hope that I can bring some new ideas, as well as play a liaison role with the member federations and other organisations like the IOC, IPC and FISU. Max did a fantastic job over many years, so it’s not easy to follow him in this position.

Have you had any reaction to your election in Madrid?

Tom Dielen: Yes, I received many congratulations from colleagues and friends, and also from many of our athletes, which is the best recognition to have.

You have already served on the IWGA Executive Committee (ExCo). Why did you decide to run again?

Tom Dielen: First of all this is linked to the fact that the next Games are in China, and I can bring something in terms of experience to the Board. Organising 3 world championships and 13 World Cup stages in this incredible country gives me some experience, and I had the pleasure to work with the current NOC President and Minister of Sports, Mr Gao Zhidan when he was a member of the World Archery Executive Board. I met him last week, and we of course discussed The World Games. The second and very important reason is that the President asked me to consider it! And lastly, the fact that I will step down from 2 other positions at the end of next year that take up a lot of my time, which will liberate enough time to give full attention to IWGA matters.

Is there a task you have set yourself as first priority?

Tom Dielen: To get acquainted with the changes that have happened in the last five years, since there are many. I would say that the key topic of the next ExCo meeting is to see what everyone can bring to the table. A strong involvement with the next Games will be a key one for sure. The world of sport is going through many changes, and the challenge for The World Games is that with an event only every 4 years you can’t experiment with a lot of new things, since the Games are over after only two weeks. Therefore learning from what our member federations are doing at their events, and then implementing this knowledge at the Games, is critical for the Games to evolve. This involves many key changes in broadcasting, sport presentation and e-sports, and how to handle matters like match-fixing, safeguarding, gender equity and many other topics.

Is there a business area that you will take on in the ExCo?

Tom Dielen: I have some ideas, but this will be a team decision at the next Exco. One thing is for sure: it will not be the anti-doping area, which was my role in my previous period on the Board, since that is well taken care of by Volker Bernardi. The fact that I am based in Lausanne will for sure play a role.

You are Secretary General of an Olympic sports federation. Do you see any advantages in this for the IWGA and if so, what are they?

Tom Dielen: Definitely, since there are similar challenges that have been addressed both by the IOC and the Olympic Games. The main difference is the budget. Furthermore, having been around for a long time I have excellent relations with the IOC management. I am sure we can use more of their expertise and I know they are willing to assist. However what is important is not just to copy but to learn from the past, and see what can be done differently to avoid mistakes.

José Perurena spoke about a transition process that started in 2017 and should be completed in 2025. How do you see the development of the IWGA in the past years?

Tom Dielen: There is definitely a change of process and the work is based on a strategy. When I first joined the ExCo we were firefighters and working for the next Games and then the next without really looking at the long term. This has changed, and it is obvious in the work that is being done by the staff. Also the staff has grown and is doing much more work.

How do you see these perspectives for the IWGA?

Tom Dielen: I am quite optimistic for the future. The challenges will be the challenges of daily life, that is the issues with geopolitical tensions and wars, global heating and the economic climate. The world of sport needs to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. The World Games Vision shows we are aiming for this, and we need to continue to promote this vision.

When your term in office ends in 2026, what should be achieved so that you can say: "Yes, the effort was worthwhile?"

Tom Dielen: I hope it will be leaving a legacy for all the sport disciplines in China and having had visibility at a world-wide level for the Games.

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

Tom Dielen: Yes: What was the first thing I said to the IWGA President after he congratulated me?

I asked his wife to make sure he stays healthy, since I have no ambition to take over from him and we need him to run the organization!


 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.