(Reuters) – World Games Birmingham CEO Nick Sellers said they had little choice but to move the 2021 event to 2022 as a clash with the postponed Tokyo Olympics would have seen them lose out on broadcasters and official scorers for the quadrennial event.
The World Games showcase over 30 sports, the majority of which are not on the Olympic program such as squash, kickboxing and bowling.
Thirty venues across Birmingham, Alabama were set to host the 11th edition of the World Games, which first began in 1981, in July next year.
But the event was postponed to July 7-17, 2022 after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed the Tokyo Games would be held from July 23-Aug. 8, 2021.
“A big value in having the World Games in your community is the close relationship with the IOC partners around national television, here in the United States with NBC Sports and the Olympic Channel and with international sports broadcasters,” Sellers told Reuters.
“Also with Swiss Timing, who is the official scorer, not only for the Olympics but also the World Games… We would have lost all of those had we kept our World Games on the same date or even tried to move it up a little bit in 2021.”
Another factor that led to the decision to postpone the Games was the overlap of three sports with the Olympics — karate, softball and sport climbing — which would have forced competitors to skip the World Games.
“They’re all big draws in the United States, they’re growing spectator sports,” Sellers added.
“They’re important to keep as part of our program because we think there could be some interesting storylines between Olympic champions now and 2021 that will compete and perhaps defend their titles at the World Games.”
The move to postpone the World Games to 2022 means there will now be two international multi-sport events in the same month in Birmingham, albeit in two different countries.
Two days after the World Games conclude in Birmingham, Alabama, the Commonwealth Games are set to begin in Birmingham, England and Sellers said he envisions a bond between the two cities in 2022.
“They’re fairly close together and I think it’s going to come down to how we choose to work together,” he said. “We’re going to reach out to the Commonwealth Games.
“Obviously, it’s a unique time in our world history, given what has happened with the global pandemic that gave rise to this.
“I think there’s the potential for some real special connection between our two cities… both having multi-sport international competitions. It really lends itself to something special.”
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris