The 11th edition of The World Games will take place from 7 to 17 July 2022 in Birmingham, Alabama. In the Interview of the Month, IWGA President José Perurena praises the quick and efficient decision-making process for the postponement of the multi-sport event.
How difficult was it for the IWGA to postpone the date by one year?
José Perurena: First of all it was for IWGA, as for many other organisers, a completely new experience. It has never happened before in The World Games history, which goes back to 1981. We did have to find a new host after a short-notice withdrawal before The Games in 1997, but we never had think about a new date.
At first glance, it seems easy to say that if the Olympic Games take place a year later, then we will do the same with The World Games. But that only applies at first glance, because we also had to have agreement for the new date from our federations. They had already set up their Event Calendars for 2022. And we didn't want to deviate from our principle that only the best athletes in a sport or discipline are invited to compete in The World Games. I would therefore like to thank the federations for their cooperation in postponing the date of the eleventh edition of The World Games in Birmingham, Alabama.
What else was important for the decision-making process?
José Perurena: At the beginning there was the coordination with the responsible persons in the host city. Nick Sellers, the CEO of the Birmingham Organising Committee (BOC), and his team reacted quickly. Luckily, the way we organise our Games together with the host city serves well for quick and efficient decision-making processes. Within two days BOC, the City of Birmingham and IWGA, by means of many internal (conference) calls, could achieve the necessary commitments to fix the pillars for a successful event in 2022.
What influence did the BOC have on the decision-making process?
José Perurena: BOC, the City of Birmingham and the IWGA recognise each other as partners handling all issues at eye level. It is only teams like BOC and IWGA that are able to face such a challenge; we trust each other and know that we can lean on each other. We discuss, we trade argument against argument and we listen to the partner who is the strongest, most experienced one in the respective business area. No doubt about that!
What is to be considered if the date is postponed by one year?
José Perurena: Organising The World Games is a complex project. If you change an important pillar such as the date, which was set five years in advance, you have to reconsider every piece of the project to make sure that it works in the same way. A postponement means that you then have to adapt operational necessities, e.g. renewal of agreements for services, venues and accommodation. I would like to give you an example. If you have booked hotels for summer 2021, that does not mean that you can rely on getting the same number of bednights at this hotel in 2022 as well. We had to agree with service providers such as Swiss Timing, as our timekeeper, and ISB, responsible for TV production, that they can commit to the new date as well. Naturally, the long-term partnerships with our service partners helped tremendously in getting things done in a very short space of time.
Were there any agreements with the IOC?
José Perurena: The IWGA has been permanently in contact with high-ranked IOC officials during this process. They have assured us their support to make the transition as elegant and efficient as possible. This came as no surprise. We know that we can count on the support of the IOC all time, not only in such difficult situations. As always we come together for a meeting to conclude the challenge and to analyse the consequences of it - but all in the right place at the right time!
What were the reactions to the decision?
José Perurena: IWGA and BOC were very pleased to learn that all participating IFs supported and welcomed the postponement. We received a 100% positive feedback and understanding for this decision. They have also made this clear to the public and their fan bases by publishing positive press releases. All confirmed their commitment to start with their ‘homework’ now.
How does the postponement affect the qualification process?
José Perurena: It affects the qualification process of many federations quite severely. Especially as most of the participating 27 IFs partaking in the official programme have had to cancel their qualifiers this year. Subsequently we have adjusted our deadline for the qualification process, and we will stay in close contact with the IFs to discuss the best solutions.
Does the postponement generate extra costs?
José Perurena: It does, without doubt. I can only emphasise that the structure within which we organise these Games in general enables the additional costs to be kept low. I would like to offer an example for this as well. One of our principles is that we use the existing infrastructure of a city and do not demand new buildings. The athletes will be accommodated in the student apartments of the University of Birmingham. The BOC is renting them now not in 2021, but in 2022. The exact amount of extra cost can only be announced once we have had a chance to gather all the facts and figures for the necessary new arrangements.
Does the new date affect TWG 2025 in Chengdu?
José Perurena: Not at all. The World Games 2025 in Chengdu, China are not affected by this decision. We had already discussed and decided on a proper timeline for the preparation work in Chengdu for this project, and this does not need to be revised. We just have to work now from the IWGA side on both projects in a more parallel and ‘sportsmanlike’ way. But our athletes are our role models, we will do our best!
What does the postponement mean for your goals and expectations for The World Games in 2022?
I am expecting that Birmingham will deliver in 2022 a top world-class multi-sport event for the athletes and teams, and also for the audience. I hope to see everyone there!
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.