Birmingham’s World Games pushed back a year after Tokyo 2020 postponement

Next year’s edition of the World Games multi-sport event in Birmingham, Alabama has been postponed by 12 months to accommodate the new date for the summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The World Games, which are sanctioned by the International World Games Association (IWGA), had been due to take place in the US city from July 15-25 next year. The event will now be held from July 7-17, 2022.

It comes after the International Olympic Committee announced earlier this week that this year’s Tokyo Olympics would now be held from July 23 to August 8 next year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The IWGA said the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics has had a “significant impact” on the planning of the Birmingham World Games. Keeping to its original dates in July 2021 would have led to an overlap with the Olympics, meaning many athletes and officials involved in the Olympics would have been excluded from the World Games.

The IWGA also said the event clash would have led to a potential reduction in public and media interest in the World Games. The Birmingham Organising Committee assessed the alternative dates for the Games and the 10-day period from July 7-17, 2022 was viewed as the only slot that could guarantee venues, accommodation and key partner support.

IWGA president José Perurena said: “A great deal of detailed work is now required to implement this decision, and further progress reports will be issued in due course. But I am impressed by the flexibility and efficiency of the Birmingham Organising Committee: they have been able, in just two days after the IOC’s announcement, to get all the main organisational items in place.”

Jonathan Porter, chairman of the Birmingham Organising Committee board of directors, added: “We are supremely confident in this shift, and believe that the circumstances will further increase the significance of the World Games across our state, region, and country.

“We are just as excited now as we were when we were scheduled for 2021, and we hope the Birmingham community and the world will share that enthusiasm with us. The World Games Birmingham is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime event. A new date on the calendar isn’t going to change that.”

The World Games, which feature sports or disciplines that are not on the Olympic programme, are held every four years, with Wroclaw in Poland having staged the most recent edition in 2017. The Birmingham Games are expected to attract 3,600 athletes from over 30 sports and 100 countries.

The postponement of Birmingham’s World Games means that there will now be two major ‘Birmingham 2022’ events taking place that year, with the English city of the same name due to stage the Commonwealth Games from July 27 to August 7.