Interview: IWGA Vice-President Max Bishop

Interview: IWGA Vice-President Max Bishop

The World’s Friendliest Multi-sport Event

Same procedure as last year: the International World Games Association (IWGA) will again hold its Annual General Meeting (AGM) remotely. The meeting on Thursday 27 May 2021 is attended by the representatives of the 37 international federations that are members of IWGA. Max Bishop, IWGA Vice-President, looks ahead to the main topics on the agenda.

What do you see as the most important topics for the virtual AGM?

Max Bishop: Without doubt the report from the Birmingham Organizing Committee for The World Games in 2022. Things like constitutional changes and finances are important, but we mustn’t lose sight of the reason for our existence: to organize The World Games every 4 years.

As mentioned, the Birmingham Organization Committee is going to present its report. What are your expectations?

Max Bishop: Our Members will want to know how preparations for The World Games in Alabama next year are going, what the main attractions are likely to be, what restrictions they can expect as a result of Covid and so forth. I hope – and am confident – that the Birmingham team will be able to assure us all that everything is on track for really successful Games, despite all the fast balls that have been thrown at them in the last year or so. We will I’m sure hear about their innovative initiatives to include Paralympic-style events for the first time, and to involve local, diverse businesses in delivering goods and services. They have also done very imaginative work on sustainability, and I’m sure they’ll mention this. Each IF will want to hear about their specific venues too.

Two IFs are applying to join the IWGA family. What makes it interesting and worthwhile to be a member of IWGA?

Max Bishop: The opportunity to be part of the world’s friendliest multi-sport event, featuring a vast and diverse range of fascinating events and athletes. Each IF’s World Champions can aspire to adding a prestigious international multi-sport medal to their display cabinets. Some International Federations also see The World Games as a stepping stone to the Olympic Games. Sports governed by five IWGA member IFs are scheduled to feature at this year’s Tokyo Games: surfing, sport climbing, skateboarding, karate and softball. And another - break-dancing (now known as “breaking”) - will be in the Paris Olympics in 2024.

Members will vote on whether to postpone board elections scheduled for next year until 2023. What is the reason for this?

Max Bishop: The Executive Committee (ExCo) is elected for a four-year term, starting in the spring the year after The World Games. This means that the same team can oversee the planning, preparation and evaluation of one edition of the Games. As everyone knows, our Birmingham Games had to be postponed by a year, until next summer, 2022. Normally, the current team remains in post only until next spring, a couple of months before the Games. Leaving office just before the event - and before the evaluation phase has even started - is obviously not ideal. So, the Membership will be invited to consider whether they wish to extend the current ExCo’s term of office, given the exceptional circumstances.

How does a remote meeting change the nature of such a meeting?

Max Bishop: Inevitably, a great deal. When we can all get together face-to-face, it makes for a much more convivial gathering, and issues can be discussed at length more easily. A remote meeting is inevitably a pared-down affair that requires carefully management to succeed. My hope is that no Member will feel deprived of the opportunity to speak on issues of importance because of the meeting format. One possible benefit of Zoom is that it does focus attention and make meetings much shorter! But we’re all looking forward to meeting each other again properly at the first opportunity – not only in the meeting room, but socially afterwards.

What preparations are necessary to ensure that a remote meeting meets all requirements, including legal requirements?

Max Bishop: A lot of preparation is going on behind the scenes to make sure that things run smoothly. CEO Joachim Gossow and General Manager Chantal Boehi have all this in hand – compiling a Powerpoint agenda, setting up the mechanism for secure remote voting, organizing our legal adviser to supervise the votes, determining who will be the voting representative for each Federation etc. Time and effort spent in preparation ensures that no improvisation is needed during the meeting itself. As for legal requirements, we modified our Constitution last year to allow for remote meetings when necessary. We can be fully confident that our deliberations will be fully in conformity with the law.

The last item on the agenda will be to announce the location and date for the next AGM. Do you think it will be possible to meet in person again then?

Max Bishop: I sincerely hope so, but on past form I’m generally much better at predicting the past than the future! But more important: with the rapid progress being made with vaccinations – soon to be extended right across the world – I’m very optimistic that The World Games 2022 will go ahead as planned. Routine meetings are a lesser priority.

IWGA is hosting its second remote AGM in six months. Has enough happened in this limited time to fill an agenda?

Max Bishop: We are obliged by our Statutes (and incidentally also by Swiss law) to hold a General Meeting every year. Like every Association, we have to ask our Members to approve the accounts and next year’s budget, sometimes to elect officials, and to approve the Minutes of the previous meeting. There’s no conscious effort to “fill the agenda”. We just treat essential business as it arises. Last year’s meeting was delayed for several months because of Covid, but we hope we are now back to regular springtime AGMs.

 The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee. The 11th edition of The World Games will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from over 30 sports and 100 countries will take part in The World Games.

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