This month it is 30 years since The World Games in Karlsruhe, Germany, and 10 years since The World Games in Kaohsiung, Chinese Taipei. And it is now 2 years since The World Games 2017 took place in Wroclaw, Poland. We take a look back to see how the Games have grown in the recent decades.
In 1989, 1,644 athletes from 50 nations took part in The World Games in Karlsruhe. The official programme included 17 sports, including Bowling, Karate, Korfball and Taekwondo. Aikido and Minigolf were presented as invitational sports, and Triathlon, Boomerang and Flying Disc were among the demonstration sports. This was thefirst time there were sports demonstrations at The World Games.
Twenty years later in Kaohsiung, the Games had grown: 2,900 athletes from 84 countries were competing at The World Games 2009. Taekwondo had at this point become an Olympic sport, but most of the sports from Karlsruhe were among the 26 sports in the official programme. New sports added to The World Games’ official programme by 2009 included Billiards, Flying Disc, Ju-jitsu and Sport Climbing.
In 2017 the official programme comprised 27 sports. New in the programme for 2017 were Lacrosse, Floorball and Muaythai, while Rugby had become part of the Olympic programme. There were additionally four invitational sports: American Football, Indoor Rowing, Kickboxing and Speedway. More than 3,200 athletes from 111 countries competed in Wroclaw, Poland.
In 2021, we expect to see more than 3,600 athletes compete in 30 official and 3 invitational sports when The World Games returns to the United States for the first time since the first edition in 1981. Some of these sports were already on the official programme of The World Games 1981 in Santa Clara: for Bowling, Finswimming, Gymnastics, Karate, Powerlifting, Racquetball, Roller Sports, Softball, Tug of War and Water Ski, the 11th edition of The World Games will also be their 40th anniversary at the Games.
While being true to its roots and the traditional sports, The World Games have grown during the past 30 years not only with regard to numbers, but especially with regard to being a truly global multi-sport event. Growing from 50 nations to 111 in 30 years means that The World Games are now followed all around the world – The World Games 2017 were broadcast in 130 countries world-wide – and there is no reason why the number of countries should not increase in the future. Furthermore, in 2025 The World Games will break new ground when the Games are held in Chengdu, China.
While there have been many good Games in the past, there are definitely also many good Games in the future to look forward to!
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, 15-25 July 2021. 3,600 athletes from over 30 sports and 100 countries will take part in the Games.