No breath in 2023
One year after The World Games 2022 in Birmingham, USA, the International World Games Association is now focusing more on the 12th edition of the multi-sport event in Chengdu, People’s Republic of China in 2025. In an interview of the month, IWGA CEO Joachim Gossow lays out the plan for 2023. There are really many milestones on the road to Chengdu.
Mr. Gossow: Usually the year after the Olympics is a bit calmer. Does this also apply to 2023?
Joachim Gossow: It could have been in the past. It definitely falls short of what we expect for 2023. We have a very busy year ahead of us with many milestones, and that’s actually not surprising. After TWG 2022 was held a year later than planned due to the pandemic, we now need to make up time for TWG 2025 Chengdu. In addition, we are already planning for the future after 2025. There really is no time to rest.
Which milestone is first?
Joachim Gossow: I would say that the first event of the year is the Athlete and Team of the Year awards. Online voting ends on January 31. So far, we’ve witnessed an exciting head-to-head race. These awards give us a look back at the Birmingham Games. All of the candidates who took part in the voting competed at The World Games 2022. However, after February 1, when the race is over, we are primarily looking to the future. In the background, preparations for our Annual General Meeting and the election of the Management Board for the 2023-2026 term are already underway.
What does it mean?
Joachim Gossow: Next month my colleagues Guillaume Felli, Chantal Boehi, Sebastian Garvens and I will be traveling to Chengdu. We want to exchange ideas with our counterparts there and map out the roadmap for the Games, which will take place in the People’s Republic of China from August 7 to 17, 2025. This journey is of great importance. Due to the pandemic, we have not been to Chengdu since 2019. During the period of remote meetings, we have learned that many matters can be dealt with by videoconferencing. However, nothing can replace regular face-to-face meetings.
What will be on the agenda?
Joachim Gossow: We have a long list of topics. But attention is focused not only on the sports program of the 12th edition of our multisport event. Our member federations have applied to participate in the program. During our board meeting in Madrid in January, the Executive Committee (ExCo) decided which sports and disciplines of our member federations will be featured. Our partners in Chengdu also have the option to decide on the inclusion of certain sports and disciplines. Together, we will now work on a program that meets all requirements and also takes into account the interests of our hosts and sports fans in China.
When will the program be finalized?
Joachim Gossow: We will present our project at the annual general meeting of the IWGA in Madrid in May. The federations will then be called upon to ratify the program. Then we’ll publish it.
But I think AGM is not only about Chengdu?
Joachim Gossow: No, definitely not! As noted above, in May, members will decide who will lead the IWGA until 2026. The elections to the Management Board, which were actually supposed to take place in 2022, have been postponed to this year. These elections are certainly important as there are only two years left for the new Executive Council to prepare, among other things, TWG 2025 Chengdu and other important issues for the future.
What does it mean?
Joachim Gossow: I am talking about our strategic document. We will achieve one of the goals in the coming weeks. We will announce the Sports Commission, chaired by Sandra Sanchez, a karateka from Spain. With this Committee, we want to give our athletes more influence on the further direction of our event. It is important for the Executive Council to listen to their views and take their judgments into account in our decisions.
Speaking of athletes, when does the qualifiers for the Chengdu Games start?
Joachim Gossow: As I said, the sports program must be fixed first. As soon as all selected federations know that they are participating, the eligibility criteria will be defined in consultation with us. We want to ensure that only the best athletes in a sport or discipline compete for medals at The World Games. This is one of our core principles; TWorld Games brings together the best athletes from around the world. In any case, I expect the qualification process for some federations to start in the second half of this year. But the “hot phase” will start in 2024.
What else have you got planned for 2023?
Joachim Gossow: We don’t have fixed dates yet. But one thing is certain: in the second half of the year, we will meet with the Competition Directors of the Federation with sport on the program in Chengdu. This Clerk’s Meeting is always the signal to start the intensive preparation phase. Such a meeting always includes an inspection of the site. Federations can then discuss with the Local Organizing Committee how the stage can be ideally set for their sport and their athletes. We are waiting for this meeting with excitement, but also with impatience. These days, everyone feels that the Games are coming and everyone is part of it.
Is there anything else to do?
Joachim Gossow: We are currently working on a different format: The World Games Series. In between the Games, we want to create a condensed program with our sports in different locations. This year, we plan to talk to interested host cities about their expectations and opportunities. We see the TWG Series event, which takes place over three or four days, as an opportunity to offer our sports an additional globally recognized platform and an opportunity for our federations to use it as a qualifying event. In addition, we see this new format as a valuable platform to promote our main event, The World Games.
Is there a question you’d like to answer that hasn’t been asked here yet?
Joachim Gossow: Maybe this one: How will you deal with all this? My answer: We have a team, management and staff at IWGA that are really passionate about The World Games. We also found that our partners – such as our service partners ISB (International Sport Broadcasting), ST (Swiss Timing) and Sword Venue – are really involved in our event. Our counterparts in Chengdu, as well as the National Olympic Committee of the People’s Republic of China, are already showing great enthusiasm to organize an exceptional Games in 2025. Finally, we also rely on participating member federations. Their support is irreplaceable. They are increasingly aware of the opportunities that the World Games offer them and their athletes. They want to take this opportunity in Chengdu. In other words, we require our athletes to give their best; we cannot demand anything less from ourselves.
World games is a multi-sport event organized every four years by the International World Games Association, organized with the support of the International Olympic Committee. The 2022 World Games took place in Birmingham, Alabama, USA from July 7-17, 2022. 3,600 athletes from 34 sports and 100 countries participated in the Games. The 12th edition of The World Games will be held in Chengdu, CHN in 2025.