Less than one year after the delayed 2020 Olympics Games took place in Beijing last summer, The World Games are coming to America.
The 11-day international event, organized the support of the International Olympic Committee, will be held in Birmingham, Ala., from July 7-17. An estimated 3,600 elite athletes from a record 110 countries are expected to compete for gold in more than 30 sports ranging from the traditional (softball, lacrosse, gymnastics, karate, archery and powerlifting) to the unexpected (fistball, floorball, finswimming and lifesaving). The goal, organizers say, is toore than 600 medals will be awarded, including 200 gold medals.
Events will take place at various venues across the Birmingham metro area — including Protective Stadium, Legion Field, the Birmingham CrossPlex, the Hoover Met Complex, Oak Mountain State Park and Barber Motorsports Park, according to the Birmingham Times.
Original MTV VJ — and Birmingham native — Alan Hunter will be an honorary co-chair, and musical performers with Alabama roots will include Lionel Richie, Jamey Johnson, Martha Reeves and country band Alabama.
The event is expected to attract 500,000 visitors to what organizers are calling the world’s first multisport competition without limited-capacity venues since the pandemic began, and the estimated economic impact to Birmingham will be a whopping $256 million.
“There is a rare moment in any city’s history when it is afforded [the opportunity] to add another chapter to who [it is],” Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin told the Birmingham Times earlier this year. “[This event] literally adds a new page and additional chapters in the book of who [Birmingham is] as a community. … We get to put on and showcase how beautiful we are, how far we’ve come. … And it’s going to send a ripple, because it’s not just about Alabama, the Southeast, America — we’re talking about globally.”
“This is an international, multisport event that’s really going to be an entree for the world to see the great Birmingham we know and love,” added David Galbaugh, vice president of sports sales and marketing for the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau. “This is going to be a chance for Birmingham to really show what we have to offer and lead to other multisport international events in the future, such as the World Police and Fire Games, which [will be hosted by the city] in 2025.”
The World Games were scheduled for 2021 but postponed a year to avoid conflicting with the rescheduled 2020 Summer Olympics. The United States has not hosted the event since the inaugural Games, when an estimated 1,400 athletes from 58 countries participated in 58 sports.
This year’s anticipated 110 participating nations will beat the previous record of 102 countries set in 2017 when Wroclaw, Poland, hosted the Games.
The World Games are governed by the Switzerland-based International World Games Association, which in 2023 is expected to launch The World Games Series.
Military veterans and supporters will run, walk, ruck, push, and cycle with the flag in a 44-day relay hosted by Team RWB, which is a nonprofit health and wellness organization for veterans. Supporters of all abilities can register to participate in a segment of the relay — which will pass through Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida on the flag’s way to Birmingham. Former U.S. Army Sergeant Noah Galloway, a Birmingham native who serves as an honorary co-chair of The World Games 2022, and Woodfin will carry the U.S. flag and The World Games flag into the Opening Ceremony at Protective Stadium.