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The World Games, first held in 1981, are an international multi-sport event, meant for sports, or disciplines or events within a sport, that are not contested in the Olympic Games. The World Games are organised and governed by the International World Games Association (IWGA), recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The World Games are held every four years, one year after the Summer Olympic Games. The next host city will be Birmingham, United States in 2021 then Chengdu, China in 2025.

International World Games Association (IWGA)
First event1981 – Santa Clara, California, United States
Occur every4 years
Last event2017 – Wrocław, Poland
PurposeTo conduct multi-sport events for sports and disciplines that are not contested in the Olympic Games
PresidentJosé Perurena López

A number of the sports that were on the programme of The World Games have been discontinued because they are now included in the programme of the Olympic Games, for example badminton, beach volleyball, trampolining, rugby sevens, taekwondo, triathlon, and women's weightlifting. Other sports have been Olympic sports in the past (like tug of war).

Some of the sports that are held at The World Games are acrobatic gymnastics, ultimate, orienteering, karate, powerlifting, finswimming, squash, korfball, billiards, water skiing, and dance sport. The sports that are included in The World Games are limited by the facilities available in the host city; no new facilities may be constructed for the games.[a] Between 25 and 30 sports have been included in the official programme of The World Games. In addition, the IWGA, in coordination with the host city, can invite some sport to participate in the "invitational" programme. No World Games medals are awarded to invitational sports.

To become part of The World Games programme, the sport must be widely spread in the world and the specific international sports federation must be a member of the IWGA. In each sport, only the best athletes or teams may participate, as determined by the international sports federations. In most classes, it is necessary to qualify by a top ranking at the world championships or a qualification tournament to be able to participate.



Host cities of the World Games
Year Edition Host city Host country Opened by Athletes Countries Official
Top of the medal table
1981 1 Santa Clara[2]   United States Kim Un-yong 1745 58 15 1   United States
1985 2 London   United Kingdom Charles Palmer 1227 57 20 1   Italy
1989 3 Karlsruhe   West Germany Richard von Weizsäcker 1206 50 17 2   Italy
1993 4 The Hague   Netherlands Beatrix of the Netherlands 2264 72 22 4   Germany
1997 5 Lahti   Finland Martti Ahtisaari 1379 73 22 6   United States
2001 6 Akita   Japan Atsuko Toyama 1968 93 22 5   Russia
2005 7 Duisburg   Germany Otto Schily 2464 93 27 6   Russia
2009 8 Kaohsiung   Chinese Taipei1 Ma Ying-jeou 2536 101 26 5   Russia
2013 9 Cali   Colombia Angelino Garzón 2982 103 26 5   Italy
2017 10 Wrocław   Poland Thomas Bach 3168 102 27 4   Russia
2021 11 Birmingham[3]   United States
2025 12 Chengdu   China

1 The   Republic of China (Taiwan) is recognised as Chinese Taipei by IWGA and the majority of international organisations it participates in due to political considerations and Cross-Strait relations with the People's Republic of China.


These are the official sports/disciplines of The World Games programme.[4]

Artistic and dance sportsEdit

Ball sportsEdit

Martial artsEdit

Precision sportsEdit

Strength sportsEdit

Trend sportsEdit

Invitational sportsEdit

All-time medal tableEdit

Through the 2017 World Games

Top ten total medal counts[6][7][8][9][10]
1  Italy153145142440
2  United States142131109382
3  Germany137111138386
4  Russia[b]13711072319
5  France101102105308
6  China685527150
7  Great Britain[c]6189210360
8  Japan553853146
9  Ukraine[d]4736125208
10  Spain424242126
Totals (10 nations)94385910232825
  1. ^ This rule, however, may be honored in the breach. The main stadium for the 2021 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama will be completely new—although its primary post-Games use will be by the American football team of the local University of Alabama at Birmingham.[1]
  2. ^ The Soviet Union, which amassed 36 total medals in 1989, is counted separately from its successor states, including Russia. This is consistent with the separate counting of medals for other states that sub-divided into their constituent successor states following their initial participation in the World Games. These include Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic and Slovakia) and Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro).
  3. ^ The 1981 mixed badminton title was won by a pair of players from Sweden and Great Britain. Both nations are counted as having won a gold medal.
  4. ^ In 2009, Ukraine was stripped of two gold medals in bodybuilding for doping, which are not included here.

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Edgemon, Erin (2018-12-12). "Groundbreaking set for BJCC stadium". Retrieved 2019-01-08.
  2. ^ "Santa Clara, USA 1981 Programme Sports". International World Games Association. Retrieved 2015-11-05.
  3. ^ Bryant, Joseph D. (January 22, 2015). "Birmingham wins! City chosen as site for 2021 World Games". Retrieved January 22, 2015.
  4. ^ "TWG2017 Documents". Retrieved 16 September 2014.
  5. ^ First time official sport in 2017.
  6. ^ "Results of the World Games". International World Games Association. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  7. ^ "2009 Kaohsiung: Doping Violations". International World Games Association. Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  8. ^ "The World Games 2009 Kaosiung (sic)". International Sumo Federation. Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  9. ^ "The World Games 2013 Cali Medal Tally". Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  10. ^ "International Sumo Federation – World Games". Retrieved 2015-11-01.

External linksEdit