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The World Games

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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 World Games will be held Wrocław, Poland, in July 2017.

International World Games Association (IWGA)
International World Games Association logo.svg
IWGA logo
First event 1981 – Santa Clara, California, United States
Occur every 4 years
Last event 2013 – Cali, Colombia
Purpose Multi-sport event for sports and disciplines that are not contested in the Olympic Games
President José 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, body building, 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. 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 Location Hosts Athletes Countries Official
1981 I Santa Clara[1]   United States 1745 58 15 1
1985 II London   United Kingdom 1227 57 20 1
1989 III Karlsruhe   West Germany 1206 50 17 2
1993 IV The Hague   Netherlands 2264 72 22 4
1997 V Lahti   Finland 1379 73 22 6
2001 VI Akita   Japan 1968 93 22 5
2005 VII Duisburg   Germany 2464 93 27 6
2009 VIII Kaohsiung   Republic of China1 2536 84 26 5
2013 IX Cali   Colombia 2982 103 26 5
2017 X Wrocław   Poland
2021 XI Birmingham[2]   United States

1 Republic of China, commonly known as Taiwan, due to complicated relations with People's Republic of China, is recognized by the name Chinese Taipei by the IWGA and the majority of international organizations.


These are the official sports/disciplines of The World Games programme.[3]

Artistic & Dance SportsEdit

Ball SportsEdit

Martial ArtsEdit

Precision SportsEdit

Strength SportsEdit

Trend SportsEdit

Invitational SportsEdit

All-time medal tableEdit

Ranked by total medals:

Top ten total medal counts[5][6][7]
Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1   Italy 137 130 127 394
2   United States 135 120 104 359
3   Germany 119 101 124 344
4   France 87 88 90 265
5   Russia[a] 108 90 58 256
6   United Kingdom 57[b] 57 85 199
7   China 60 48 22 130
8   Netherlands 38 40 48 126
9   Japan 46 32 46 124
10   Sweden 37[b] 35 46 118
  1. ^ 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).
  2. ^ a b 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.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Santa Clara, USA 1981 Programme Sports". International World Games Association. Retrieved 2015-11-05. 
  2. ^ Bryant, Joseph D. (January 22, 2015). "Birmingham wins! City chosen as site for 2021 World Games". Retrieved January 22, 2015. 
  3. ^ "TWG2017 Documents". Retrieved 16 September 2014. 
  4. ^ First time official sport.
  5. ^ "Results of the World Games". International World Games Association. Retrieved 2015-10-26. 
  6. ^ "The World Games 2013 Cali Medal Tally". Retrieved 2015-10-26. 
  7. ^ "International Sumo Federation – World Games". Retrieved 2015-11-01. 

External linksEdit