2022 World Games
The 2022 World Games, officially The World Games 2022 Birmingham, USA, is an international sporting competition scheduled to be held in Birmingham in from July 7–17, 2022, postponed from July 2021 after the Olympic Games in Tokyo were delayed for a year due to the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic.
The event, which debuted in 1981, brings together approximately 3,600 athletes from as many as 100 countries every four years to compete in dozens of sports that are not contested at the Olympic Games. This will be the first World Games held in the United States since the inaugural games hosted in Santa Clara, California.
The International World Games Association (IWGA) was founded in 1980. It is based in Lausanne, Switzerland and acts under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee. Birmingham resident Ron Froehlich was one of the founders, and served as IWGA's president from 1992 to 2014. Froehlich invited a delegation of Birmingham leaders to the 2013 World Games hosted in Cali, Colombia.
The delegation supported the idea of forming a local committee to bid for the games. Scott Myers and Edgar Weldon of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame led the group, which submitted a 350-page proposal in June 2014. The bid was supported by the City of Birmingham, the State of Alabama and the United States Olympic Committee. An IWGA delegation toured Birmingham that October. Myers and Weldon were accompanied by David Benck of Hibbett Sports and Birmingham City Council president Johnathan Austin when they made the final pitch at IWGA headquarters. The other finalists were Lima, Peru and Ufa, Russia. IWGA president José Perurena announced Birmingham as the selection on January 22, 2015.
Alabama Power executive Jonathan Porter succeeded Weldon as chair of the organizing committee in July 2016. Porter's committee met with IWGA CEO Joachim Gossow and media coordinator Hagan Bossdorf in September of that year, acknowledging that a lot of work would be required to get the plans on schedule. Local organizers project an overall budget of less than the $75 million originally discussed. Because of limited availability of public funds, planners expect to house athletes in university dormitories rather than in hotels.
Mokovets expects overall attendance of around 100,000, with a "conservative" estimate of local revenues at $5.1 million, or $20.5 million statewide. The Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau has estimated that the event could provide an overall economic impact to the region of between $224.4 and $288.6 million.
In March 2017 veteran event organizer D. J. Mackovets was hired as CEO of the Birmingham World Games. In December of that year the Committee announced a proposed budget of $48 million, more than half of which would be raised privately through corporate sponsorships. The event would require 2,200 volunteers to assist with 3,600 expected athletes from 100 countries, as well as around 1,000 members of the press.
In July 2019 "World Games Vulcan" was announced as the event's official mascot, along with the addition of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama as a foundation sponsor for the event and title sponsor for a "Live Healthy, Play Global" education program. Other foundation sponsors include Alabama Power, ICON Health, Protective Life, Regions and Shipt. BBVA signed on as sponsor of the event's volunteer program in September 2020.
Mackovets resigned from the Birmingham World Games in late 2019 and was succeeded by Alabama Power Company executive and Alabama Sports Council chair Nick Sellers. LRY Media Group was contracted to produce the opening and closing ceremonies, and to program the "World Games Plaza" at Railroad Park.
The decision to postpone the games was made in a video conference with members of the International World Games Association and the Birmingham Organizing Committee of The World Games. The decision was announced on April 1, 2020. Soon later the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) announced that they would recognize the World Games as the top women’s international softball competition for 2022, taking the place of the Women’s Softball World Cup.
Charles Barkley was named as an honorary co-chair of the event in July 2020. Later that month the National Football League, through its NFL Flag Football division headed by Izell Reese, was announced as a "premier partner", and presenting sponsor of the event's flag football competition. Henry Panion was announced in December as the artistic director for the games' opening and closing ceremonies. In March 2021 Brasfield & Gorrie was announced as the event's "official construction partner", with HPM as "official program management partner." Executives Brian Barr and Ryan Austin joined the games' board of directors.
Sports to be included within the event were announced in April 2018 at the SportAccord Convention in Bangkok, Thailand. Softball and racquetball were returned to the event after eight- and 36-year absences, respectively. A total of 35 events will be contested at the 2021 World Games, including 30 selected by the IWGA and five "invitational" events selected by the Birmingham Organizing Committee.
- Artistic & Dance sports (Dance, Gymnastics, Parkour)
- Ball sports (Beach Handball, Canoe Polo, Fistball, Floorball, Handball, Korfball, Racquetball, Softball, Squash)
- Martial Arts (Ju-Jitsu, Karate, Kickboxing, Muaythai, Sumo)
- Precision sports (Archery, Billiards, Boules Sports, Bowling)
- Roller sports (Figure Skating, Inline Hockey, Speed Skating)
- Strength sports (Tug of War, Powerlifting)
- Trend sports (Air Sports, Finswimming, Flying Disc, Lifesaving, Orienteering, Sport Climbing, Waterski & Wakeboard)
- Invitational sports (Flag football, Duathlon, Lacrosse, Wheelchair rugby, Wheelchair basketball)
- Avondale Park (target and field archery)
- Barber Motorsports Park
- Bartow Arena
- BBVA Field
- Birmingham CrossPlex (inline roller hockey, artistic rollerskate, roller speed skating, wheelchair rugby, canoe polo, lifesaving, underwater fin swimming)
- Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center, Legacy Arena
- Birmingham-Southern College
- Boutwell Auditorium (kickboxing, muay thai, sumo)
- Bessie Estelle Park (boules)
- Hoover Metropolitan Stadium (softball)
- Legion Field (flag football)
- Protective Stadium (opening and closing ceremonies)
- Oak Mountain State Park
- Sloss Furnaces (breakdance, parkour, beach handball, bouldering, speed climbing, lead climbing)
- Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport
- Birmingham YMCA
- Lakeshore Foundation
- Railroad Park
- Regions Field
- Rickwood Field
- Samford University, Seibert Stadium
- Shades Valley YMCA
- Shelby County Airport
- Spare Time Entertainment
- UAB Campus Recreation Center
- Tomberlin, Michael (June 8, 2014) "Birmingham making bid to host 2021 World Games with projected $256.5 million economic impact" The Birmingham News
- Tomberlin, Michael (June 8, 2014) "Where would the World Games take place in Birmingham in 2021?" The Birmingham News
- Natta, Andre (June 9, 2014) "Still dreaming big dreams for Birmingham in 2021" The Terminal
- Bryant, Joseph D. (January 22, 2014) "Birmingham wins! City chosen as site for 2021 World Games." The Birmingham News
- Poe, Kelly (January 22, 2015) "Economist: Birmingham is probably going to lose money hosting the World Games, and that's OK." The Birmingham News
- Johnson, Roy S. (September 27, 2016) "World Games CEO visits Birmingham, meets board, says there's 'a lot to do'." The Birmingham News
- Poe, Kelly (March 12, 2017) "Five questions with the new head of Birmingham's World Games." The Birmingham News
- Edgemon, Erin (December 6, 2017) "Birmingham World Games 2021 will cost estimated $50 million, most from corporate sponsors." The Birmingham News
- Patchen, Tyler (April 16, 2018) "International World Games Association presents the sports for the 2021 Games." Birmingham Business Journal
- Patchen, Tyler (October 19, 2018) "Three big Birmingham entities sign on to sponsor World Games 2021." Birmingham Business Journal
- Archibald, Ramsey (May 22, 2019) "What can Birmingham expect from the World Games?" The Birmingham News
- Beahm, Anna (July 21, 2019) "21 things you need to know about the 2021 World Games in Birmingham." The Birmingham News
- Beahm, Anna (July 24, 2019) "Vulcan to be 2021 Birmingham World Games mascot." The Birmingham News
- Estes, Cary (September 2019) "How Birmingham is prepping to host the 2021 World Games." Birmingham magazine
- Johnson, Roy S. (December 4, 2019) "DJ Mackovets out as World Games 2021 CEO, replaced by Alabama Power exec Nick Sellers." The Birmingham News
- Patchen, Tyler (December 6, 2019) "New World Games CEO Nick Sellers on vision for the games, plans and more." Birmingham Business Journal
- Patchen, Tyler (March 2, 2020) "The World Games 2021 secures new sponsors, awards contract to Bham firm." Birmingham Business Journal
- Beahm, Anna (March 5, 2020) "It’s less than 500 days away; World Games exec says halfway to $50 million goal." The Birmingham News
- Patchen, Tyler (April 2, 2020) "World Games in Birmingham postponed to 2022." Birmingham Business Journal
- Chambers, Jesse (May 27, 2020) "World Games in Birmingham renamed, delayed until 2022." Iron City Ink
- Johnson, Roy S. (July 15, 2020) "NFL joins World Games 2022 as partner, will sponsor newest sport." The Birmingham News
- Anderson, Jon (February 17, 2021) "Hoover council OKs using Hoover Met for 2022 World Games softball." Hoover Sun
- Patchen, Tyler (March 22, 2021) "The World Games selects more event locations." Birmingham Business Journal