The countdown is on. There are 100 days to go until the opening ceremony of The World Games 2022 on 7 July at the Protective Stadium. In the IWGA Interview of the Month Nick Sellers, CEO of the Birmingham Organising Committee, says: the energy is growing day by day. And he assures: we are ready.
How does Birmingham honour the 100 Days to Go Day?
Nick Sellers: We will honour the "100 Days To Go" by announcing the "Team RWB Old Glory Relay to The World Games 2022 presented by Airbus". This epic journey will begin on 25 May in Washington, DC with thousands of America’s military veterans carrying the American Flag and The World Games flag from our nation’s capitol, across the heartland of America, and ultimately into Birmingham, USA. And on 7 July, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and TWG2022 Honorary Co Chair Noah Galloway, who is himself a veteran and a sports enthusiast, will carry those same flags into Opening Ceremonies for the national anthem. This moment will signify a reconnection of global sports fans as The World Games 2022 will be the first major international multi sport event with full venues following the global pandemic.
What's more important to you - the anticipation of the opening ceremony or the nervousness that everything will run smoothly?
Nick Sellers: All of this is important to me. I have great confidence in my team, working hard for the Birmingham Organizing Committee and our plan of execution throughout The Games. And I’m excited for the world to see the beautiful Opening Ceremony show with so many well known artists performing. I’m equally excited for fans to “Witness History” as over 3,600 athletes compete and showcase incredible athletic feats. I am convinced that we will remember this moment a long time. But there’s always a little anxiety for the actual show to begin. This gives us the extra adrenaline to ensure that we’ve taken care of the details.
What are the most important tasks on the home stretch to the Games?
Nick Sellers: We are moving more from planning to execution. And the most important tasks revolve around the different schedules. We call them “GamesTime” plans. The priorities of these plans include ensuring that the volunteers are trained and ready, each venue and our city has a world class “look and decor”, as well as ensuring that the athletes, fans, and sponsors have a safe, fun and memorable experience. There are so many details that go on behind the scenes to make this happen. Our BOC along with our partners in government and the private sector are all working harmoniously with our partners at the IWGA. And I’m pleased with our progress toward the preparation and execution of these plans.
What are the most important milestones that have already been achieved?
Nick Sellers: We’ve achieved so many milestones at this stage including securing over 100 sponsors, enlisted over 2,500 volunteers, secured many key partnerships, and finalized our marketing and promotional materials. Now, we turn to finalizing all of the accreditation of teams, athletes, dignitaries, officials, media, and so on, as well as a “GamesTime” simulation in May. During this exercise, we will treat eleven days as if each day were a day during TWG 2022 to establish better and more efficient communication and execution plans. This plan will include working on each day with partners from broadcast production to transportation and security.
What does a CEO's working day look like at this stage?
Nick Sellers: I try to ensure my weekly team meeting with staff leadership and partners. But I also try to protect my schedule to have the flexibility to communicate with my entire team, public and private partners, and our IWGA partners as needed. Every day matters at this point for successful execution of our plans. And my time is spent mostly ensuring that our team has the necessary resources and support needed to deliver these plans. Not to forget: I am promoting the historic nature of The World Games 2022.
The BOC is now launching an advertising campaign: what are the most important messages? And what does the campaign look like?
Nick Sellers: The final advertising campaign is a “call to action” for everyone to get their ticket to TWG 2022 while they can. Some competitions are already close to selling out. And we believe that this final advertising campaign will really build even more excitement for ticket sales. The theme is “Step Up!”. Because just as these incredible athletes will have their chance to “Step Up” on that medal podium for their moment of glory, it’s also Birmingham’s and all of America’s chance to “Step Up” and buy a ticket to share in this moment and watch something historic. This will be a moment that fans and families will talk about for the rest of their lives. It’s very special. And I believe it will build excitement for these sports that are competing in TWG 2022. We call these sports the “new generation of global sports” in America.
What is the mood in Birmingham with regard to the event?
Nick Sellers: The energy is growing day by day and it’s very exciting. Just over the past few weeks, it feels like more and more citizens are realizing that the Games are almost here. The World Games 2022 is on the local and statewide news almost every day now. And it is bringing our community and state together in a very special way. We want to show the world our true “southern hospitality” and how Birmingham and the entire State of Alabama is becoming an international destination worthy of such a grand event as The World Games. We believe this will propel us onto the global stage in a big way. And we are ready.
Do friends and acquaintances talk to you about The World Games and what do they want to know?
Nick Sellers: The World Games 2022 is a constant topic of conversation in my life right now. From family and friends to business colleagues, they all want to know more about how things are going and what they can do to help. It has been a humbling experience to be a part of this special moment. I’m just grateful to have had this chance to work with an incredible team. And I’m especially grateful to have developed a true friendship with IWGA Honorary Life President Ron Froehlich who is a longtime resident of Birmingham. He’s become a mentor to me and he has helped me get through some very challenging and difficult times in this role. I’ve leaned on his experience. There’s many people that I keep in the front of my mind during this time. But he’s among the top. I want to make him proud. He’s worked so hard for many years for the IWGA and The Olympic Movement and he deserves to see his hometown deliver the best Games yet.
Is the war in Ukraine in connection with The World Games a topic in Birmingham?
Nick Sellers: Yes it is. Many of our sponsors and fans have asked what we can do collectively to show our support and solidarity with the Ukrainian athletes and citizens. And during our recent meetings in Birmingham, IWGA President Perurena made a great recommendation that the BOC join with our partners at the IWGA to support the Ukrainian athletes with a share of ticket and merchandise revenue. We are finalizing those plans and will announce them very soon.
The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association, organised with the support 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 34 sports and over 100 countries will take part in The World Games.