Back to Birmingham
For the first time since the travel restrictions resulting from the pandemic, a delegation of the International World Games Association was recently able to visit Birmingham, Alabama, the host city of The World Games 2022.
The focus of the meetings was an exchange of information on the status of preparations. Also on the agenda was the planning of two major meetings at the beginning of December, when the competition managers of the international federations as well as the representatives of the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and the National Sport Organisations (NSOs) will set a new milestone on the road to Birmingham. The 11th edition of The World Games will take place from 7-17 July, 2022, with 34 sports on the programme. Nearly 3,600 elite athletes from over 100 nations will compete for The World Games gold over the ten days of competition.
For the IWGA, CEO Joachim Gossow, General Manager Chantal Boehi and Sebastian Garvens, Head of Games Services, participated in the three-day talks. They exchanged information with the CEO of the Birmingham Organising Committee, Nick Sellers, and his team during the productive meetings.
Joachim Gossow, reflecting on the first face-to-face meetings in more than a year, said:
"We are organising the biggest sporting event ever held in Birmingham as friends and partners. Friends need to see each other in person from time to time. That's why it was important for all of us to finally be able to meet in person on site. We want to intensify these direct contacts in the coming months, and are now planning face-to-face meetings between the respective counterparts from the individual work areas."
BOC CEO Nick Sellers said of the IWGA delegation's visit:
“It was great to have our teams back together to prepare for The Games next summer. Hearing first-hand experiences from our IWGA counterparts helps us trememdously in preparing our once in a lifetime event in Birmingham.”
The experiences of travelling during these days prompted Chantal Boehi to make an urgent plea to the International Federations:
"It is more important than ever to register the qualified participants early. The pandemic has increased the bureaucratic burden. We should apply for visas and entry permits as early as possible so that all athletes who have earned their participation can compete."
The earlier the entries are received, the easier it is to overcome the hurdles.
Sebastian Garvens pointed out that moving the Games by a year from 2021 to 2022 because of the pandemic does have its advantages. "Birmingham can now use the Protective Stadium, which is currently under construction, for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games. We had the opportunity to look around the site and were impressed. Protective Stadium will be a perfect stage for these ceremonies." In addition, he said, the refurbishment of the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Complex represents another huge improvement. Several sports such as Billiard, Bowling, DanceSport and Gymnastics use the building as a venue. "The athletes will find perfect competition conditions for performing in the best way possible,” Sebastian Garvens explained.
Finally, work on the new City Street Walk underneath a new highway structure will be completed by the start of the Games. Birmingham wants to use this area as a venue for the Plaza, with a cultural programme during the Games, and for the Sports Garden, a participatory venue for The World Games sports. Sebastian Garvens:
“We could see now that this will be the perfect place for these offerings to Birmingham residents and visitors to the Games. We're sure this will be a vibrant place. The decision regarding the City Street Walk helps to make the Games what Nick Sellers promised: a Once in a Lifetime Experience for the people of Birmingham and Alabama, but also for the athletes from all over the world."
Joachim Gossow stressed: "Our visit has helped us to learn more about progress in the respective work areas. However the essential part of the work is just beginning. It is a matter of implementing the agreements and following up to check that all tasks are completed on time. With just under eleven months to go before the Opening Ceremony, the hot phase is now beginning. In a way, the meeting in Birmingham was the starting signal for the final spurt to an experience that should and will be outstanding for everyone.”
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.