Let’s promote our athletes even better
The International World Games Association is strengthening its cooperation with national sport entities. In his opening speech at the 1st IWGA National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and National Sports Organisations (NSOs) Meeting in Madrid on Wednesday, IWGA President José Perurena said: "The cooperation between you and The World Games Family has been improved and intensified in the last few years, but there are still more steps we can take in common in order to promote our athletes even better".
The hybrid meeting at the Spanish NOC headquarters was attended by 28 representatives of NOCs and NSOs. Among them were the German DOSB, Sport Austria, the South African NOC and representatives of the Chinese NOC and Chinese Taipei NOC. The focus was on closer cooperation in the build-up to the 12th edition of the multi-sport event, to be held from 7th to 17th August 2025 in Chengdu, Peoples Republic of China.
The IWGA met in Madrid at the invitation of Alejandro Blanco, President of the COE (Spanish NOC). In his welcoming address, President Blanco emphasised the growing importance of The World Games within the Olympic movement. IWGA President José Peruena echoed this assessment by stating that there is no longer a clear distinction between Olympic and non-Olympic sports. He referred to the around 15 sports and disciplines that have used The World Games as a springboard into the Olympic programme. Joachim Gossow, IWGA CEO, pointed out that the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris will feature the IWGA Federations DanceSport (Breaking), RollerSport (Skateboarding), Sport Climbing and Surfing.
Athletes benefit from NOC/NSO presence
More and more national sports organisations have recognised the growing importance of The World Games. 39 NOCs or NSOs were present at the edition of the Games in Birmingham, USA a year ago. This was 40 per cent more than at the tenth edition in 2017 in Worclaw, Poland, said Guillaume Felli, IWGA Deputy CEO in his presentation. The entities on site supported their athletes by covering travel costs, for example. They provided uniforms to showcase them as a team representing their country. They had their own physiotherapists and supporting teams on site, and ensured media coverage in the athletes' home countries with their PR teams.
One of the motives is that The World Games winners of today could be possible medal candidates at the Olympic Games of tomorrow. José Perurena could point to an example from his home country. The Spanish Karateka Sandra Sanchez won a silver medal at The World Games 2017 in Wroclaw, Poland, a gold medal at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo and another gold medal at The World Games 2022 in Birmingham, USA. Sandra Sanchez is now the Chair of the IWGA Athletes’ Committee.
Rudy Lahor of the Belgian NOC referred to skater Bart Swings, who won the first gold medal ever for his country at the Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022. In the same year, Swings won four gold medals in Roller Skating at the Games in Birmingham. One of the highlights of TWG 2022 was the rematch in Women's Softball. Japan had won the final against the USA at the Olympic Games in Tokyo; in Birmingham, the USA then won the rematch against Japan for gold.
More national entities expected in Chengdu
The IWGA wants to advertise further the benefits of having athletes supported by their NOCs/NSOs. Joachim Gossow expects that more national entities will be present in Chengdu at the 2025 Games. “On the road to Chengdu, it is important to understand the wishes and needs of the NOCs and NSOs better, and to take them into account when preparing for the Games,” he said. “This also includes improved communication about which athletes from a country have qualified for TWG.” Unlike at the Olympic Games, nominations for TWG are made through the International Sports Federations.
The workshop participants also wanted to simplify the accreditation of staff and the process of ensuring they are provided with all the necessary access rights. Those wishes came forward during a panel discussion conducted by IWGA Vice President Tom Dielen. Rudy Lahor from Belgium, Marco Alves, Chef de Mission for Portugal at the Birmingham Games and Aria Siami, Chef de Mission for Austria praised the progress made over the last editions, but stressed what should be done in the future as well.
IWGA President José Perurena promised to take the suggestions into account in the preparation of the Games. In addition and in the meantime, contact with the NOCs and NSOs will be intensified. Another workshop is planned for autumn 2024. At this meeting, to be held in Chengdu, the IWGA together with the Local Organising Committee will give information directly about the Games in 2025, and say how the national organisations can contribute to the success of their athletes and the event.
Joachim Gossow described the meeting in Madrid as motivation to other NOCs and NSOs to get involved with the athletes of their country at The World Games: “We are convinced that this workshop showed the importance that IWGA attaches to the role of national sports organisations. We anticipate that the exchanges during the sessions will encourage increased numbers of NOCs and NSOs to cooperate more closely with us.”
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, 7-17 August 2025.