Despite some bad beginnings and misstep, including a big promise, a big delay and a scaled-back footprint, the World Beach Games are on the calendar for San Diego. The website has been expanded and updated; it now includes some information, including logistics, on the Games.
The Games, a multi-sport event in a format similar to the Olympics but emphasizing water and beach events as well as some action sports, are scheduled for October 10-15, 2019.
According to the website, all events will be held in San Diego’s South Mission Beach area. The projected attendance is 2,000 athletes, 1,800 officials of ANOC (the Association of National Olympic Committees, which is the organizing body) and an estimated 400,000 attendees. The budget is $40 million.
Inside The Games notes that sports are subject to change. The website itself does not list sports (it states only that there will be 15 sports with 17 disciplines), but some news items found on the site, as well as reports from other sources make reference to the beach/sand versions of soccer, volleyball, wrestling, handball and karate. Water sports will include surfing and stand-up paddle boarding, waterskiing and wakeboarding. Other events planned include 3-on-3 basketball, BMX cycling, kite surfing, swimming, beach tennis, park skateboarding, sport climbing and bouldering; and duathlon (running and swimming).
Beach volleyball is wildly popular and growing at all levels in the U.S., so it is possible that the other sand-based sports featured at the World Beach Games will be able to use the attention as a springboard for growth.
Three stadium venues are planned, (one for all rounds of beach soccer and beach volleyball, one for the finals of all the other sports and one for the action games, such as BMX). In addition, there will be a water sports field of play within easy view. Opening ceremonies are planned for Petco Park, with organizers hoping for 35,000 spectators.
Pundits, however, have been divided about the viability of the World Beach Games, given its fits and starts. Michael Pavitt, reporting for Inside The Games, noted, “I must say I am quite looking forward to seeing how this concept unfolds over the next two years. It has been a rather sluggish start, considering the Games were pushed back from 2017 to 2019, while largely there has been silence about what has been happening. Or whether it would even be happening at all.”
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, ANOC hopes the second games will be held in 2021 and every two years thereafter, between winter and summer Olympic Games, and in cities and countries that cannot afford to put on full-fledged Olympic events. And Inside The Games notes ANOC has said that other cities have expressed an interest in hosting future World Beach Games; however, those cities have not been named.