IWGA Interview of the Month: Mayor Randall Woodfin

IWGA Interview of the Month: Mayor Randall Woodfin

Come to Birmingham

The City of Birmingham is looking forward to hosting The World Games 2022 (7-17 July). In the IWGA interview, Mayor Woodfin says which headline he would like to read the day after the closing ceremony on 17 July 2022.

How does Birmingham celebrate "One Year Before The World Games"?

Randall Woodfin: The one year celebration proved to be such a great time. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the occasion. I recall seeing smiling faces throughout the room. Collectively, we are Team Birmingham. We are the municipalities and organizations coming together to ensure this is a world-class sports and entertainment event for our visiting athletes and fans. I take it very seriously that I am the head cheerleader of Team Birmingham and I am so excited about what our city has to offer to all of our guests who will be here in 2022. The introduction of the official mascots, Vulcan and Vesta, created a great deal of excitement. Knowing that tickets for The World Games 2022 are now on sell emphasizes that the world is coming to Birmingham next year. I took a moment to soak it all in that day. We are so very proud to be the host city for this great event.

Do you have the impression that next year's Games have already arrived in the city and that there is a certain “looking forward to” atmosphere?

Randall Woodfin: Absolutely. When you drive into the state of Alabama, the signs read “welcome to sweet home Alabama, home of The World Games 2022.” You see the same signs when you drive into the city of Birmingham. Countdown clocks are located at City Hall and various locations in our city. The venues which will host the events have large signs that state “The World is Coming.” You cannot miss that message when visiting our city. Our team is completely focused on preparing for the events. We are committed to providing a once in a lifetime experience for the people who call Birmingham home, the thousands of athletes and fans who will visit, and the millions who will watch on television and online.

What are you most looking forward to?

Randall Woodfin: We have had a globally shared experience of separation due to the pandemic. Thanks to the availability of the vaccine, we are seeing more opportunities to gather again in Birmingham. I’m looking forward to simply getting out and sharing that experience with the people of Birmingham and our new friends who will visit from across the globe. Birmingham is a sports town. We love to experience the thrill of the competition. We have been deprived of sharing that in person for awhile now due to the pandemic. I look forward to seeing us come together as a people once again.

Nick Sellers, CEO of the BOC, expects the first post-pandemic multi-sport event to be with full stadiums. Do you share his expectations?

Randall Woodfin :Yes. I have consistently said we must listen to our medical experts and follow the data. We have moved intentionally through this pandemic by listening to our public health leaders to ensure the people of our city are safe. We will continue to do that. I am optimistic that every step will be taken to protect both our residents and our visitors. The arrival of the vaccine has created a great deal of optimism. The more people who have access to the vaccine and take the vaccine will ensure a safe and shared experience for everyone.

What are your hopes for the The World Games 2022?

Randall Woodfin: We are firmly focused on making this a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our visiting athletes and fans. We also know this provides incredible opportunities for our residents and businesses. I can tell the coming experience of serving as a global host has excited the 99 neighborhoods that make up the city. The pride our residents feel is clear. We are a town full of southern hospitality and ready to share it with the world. Many of the preparations underway in the city concerning infrastructure and transportation serves two purposes: it improves the quality of life for our residents while also preparing for our international guests. The city has partnered with The World Games Birmingham to provide the World of Opportunity. This is a program that educates our business community on the opportunities available to work with The World Games 2022 either in preparations or as an event vendor. The connections and relationships that will be built leading up to and during the event will be lasting. I am convinced we will be a better, stronger city because of our World Games experience.

In what way does the City of Birmingham support the preparation?

Randall Woodfin: The city is involved in every aspect. We must make sure our infrastructure is ready. We must ensure general services and public safety are coordinated. We must confirm our public transit system is up to the task. We must prepare each venue in order to provide the best experience for our athletes and fans possible. The City of Birmingham is the central hub of a metro region of more than a million people. We will coordinate with each of our regional partners to ensure a welcoming, open and world class experience for our athletes and guests.

What headline would you like to read the day after the closing ceremony on 17 July 2022?

Randall Woodfin: A once-in-a-lifetime World Games 2022 firmly positions Birmingham as a world-class sports and entertainment destination.

How would you describe your expectations in the legacy for Birmingham?

Randall Woodfin: Birmingham has a legacy as a city of makers and builders. We were formed 150 years ago as an iron and steel town that has reinvented itself over the decades. Today we are a medical, banking, tech and logistics hub. The entrepreneurial spirit that started Birmingham in 1871 burns brightly today.

The legacy that transformed Birmingham is our civil rights history. The civil rights giants of the 1950s and 1960s paved the way for Birmingham to be a social justice champion today. The local leadership of the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth set the stage for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to come to Birmingham in 1963 to make changes that were witnessed on a world stage. The giants of the civil rights movement serve as reminders to us today of what we can accomplish when we come together.

That leads to The World Games 2022. The lessons of openness, justice and diversity experienced in our history will serve us well as a welcoming city to the world. We can all grow as a people with this event. That is the legacy that I hope is accomplished when the Closing Ceremonies are complete on 17 July 2022.

What questions would you like to answer but I forgot to ask?

Randall Woodfin: It’s simple. Come to Birmingham and celebrate athletic excellence with a global community in July 2022.

 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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