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Against All Odds, World Beach Games Begins One-Year Countdown

31 Oct, 2018

By: Mary Helen Sprecher
San Diego Preparations Include Live Coverage

The World Beach Games officials are ready to kick sand in doubters’ faces. Having started the one-year countdown until the event take place in San Diego, the event organizers have announced its events will be broadcast by none other than NBC. And that means increased attention to featured sports – which could result in a demand for more events.

According to the organization’s website, the local organizing committee has a media rights agreement with NBC Olympic, which will present coverage across NBC, NBCSN, NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app, and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA.

The event, which opens on October 9, 2019, is expected to bring in approximately 1,300 athletes and more than 400,000 fans for the event. The competition will encompass a total of 15 sports and 17 disciplines, including:

  • Aquathlon ( running and swimming)

  • Open water swimming (5K distance)

  • BMX

  • Bouldering

  • Beach handball

  • Kata karate

  • Kiteboarding

  • Park skateboarding

  • Beach soccer

  • Beach tennis

  • Basketball (three on three format)

  • Beach volleyball (four on four format)

  • Beach wrestling

  • Surfing: Shortboard and longboard

  • Water ski jumping

  • Wakeboarding

A schedule is expected to be announced in due course, and is said to include a one-hour recap special on NBC following the conclusion of the Games. More than 50 hours of world feed coverage will be available for broadcasters around the world, featuring six days of live and recorded sport, opening and closing ceremonies, medal ceremonies and a concert series.

“This agreement is excellent news for the 206 National Olympic Committees and the international Sports Federations,” said ANOC Secretary General Gunilla Lindberg. “NBC’s proficiency in sports broadcasting and passion for the Olympic values mean we can guarantee fantastic exposure for the elite athletes and exciting new sports on show at the inaugural ANOC World Beach Games.”

Despite all the hiccups of the past few years – including downsizing and a reschedule to 2019 – the process is moving forward. In a new development, qualification guidelines have been sent to the national Olympic committees (known in the trade as NOCs) of each participating country.

According to an article in Inside The Games, qualification pathways are believed to be different for each event, but the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC, the organization overseeing the Games) has noted that in order to guarantee the quality of the competitions, most athletes and teams will be determined based on world ranking points or the highest finishing places at World Championships or Continental Championships. About 1,350 individuals are expected to compete, with an expected 40,000 fans per day, according to the article.

It is likely there may be some changes to the line-up of sports, however, since ANOC President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah has noted that he would like to see freediving included, with an eye to moving it toward the Olympics. Should this be added to the World Beach Games (or anywhere else), it will have to be done in accordance with the World Underwater Federation, the international governing body.

In addition to the fits and starts that surrounded the planning for these Games, there have been a few political snafus. Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) was originally planned to be on the program, but was taken out later. That sport is currently mired in a dispute over who the correct governing body should be: the International Canoe Federation or the International Surfing Association. ANOC has denied facing any pressure from the International Canoe Federation (ICF) in the decision to remove SUP from the program. So what made the tide turn? Persistence and patience. Despite downsizing and delays, the LOC has never let the idea of the Games die. It has also worked to make them manageable and affordable, something larger event organizers (***cough  cough the IOC! cough cough***) could learn from.

The event is expected to have a festival atmosphere, with music and cultural events being offered.

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