Crucial examination of Birmingham almost seven months before the World Games

The president of the IWGA, the Spanish José Perurena, heads the meetings with the international federations, National Olympic Committees and Organizing Committee.

José Perurena /  EFE/Angel Díaz
José Perurena / EFE/Angel Díaz

The president of the International World Games Association (IWGA), the Spanish José Perurena, opened this Monday in Birmingham, Alabama, a key week for the success of the upcoming World Games.

His agenda began with the two-day meeting with the technical directors of the 34 International Federations that will animate the program of the world mega-event turned into a showcase of sports aspiring to be Olympic. Some already have been, such as softball, karate, skateboarding and climbing, and others will be in three years, such as breakdancing.

“Maybe we will have several Olympic medalists from Tokyo,” Perurena told Around The Rings just arrived from Madrid to the southeastern U.S. city, after a five-hour layover at the Miami airport.

“With the current controls, you have to get tickets well in advance for connections, because if you don’t, you’re stuck,” the Madrid-based executive recounted. In Miami, he stood in line for three hours with his PCR and vaccination certificate in hand before entering the United States.

The multi-sport event will be held from July 7 to 17, 2022. The program includes 34 sports with 58 disciplines and 223 medal events. During the 10 days of competition, 3,600 athletes from some 100 countries are expected.

On Wednesday and Thursday Perurena will hold a “hybrid” meeting with representatives of National Olympic Committees, in person and by videoconference, and with the Birmingham 2022 organizing committee, headed by Jonathan Porter.

“We want the NOCs to be more integrated into the Games so that their athletes do not participate individually, but as a delegation under the country’s flag,” he says.

Before returning to Spain, the Madrid-based executive will sum up the week’s work with his seven-person Executive Committee, and hopes to have a dialogue with the city’s mayor, Randall Woodfin, beforehand.

The World Games were postponed for a year after the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics.

Perurena preferred not to venture into imagining a complicated health scenario for the Games with more than seven months to go.

“At the moment it’s not an issue we have on the agenda,” clarified Perurena, who remains confident that Birmingham will host the Games “of the new normal.”

“We have already started to tour every sporting venue including the University that will serve as accommodation for the athletes,” he said.

As of November, as many as six international sports federations have used their continental or world competitions to determine the best athletes for the Games .

So far, more than 600 athletes (or teams) from 61 countries have qualified. The qualification process will conclude in May.

As of this last week of November, the United States, with some 260 athletes and participation in 58 medal events, is the largest group to date on the road to the Games, followed by Germany, Russia and Canada. However, the numbers of these countries and many others should change in December with new qualifying tournaments.


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