4 reasons to get excited about The World Games 2021, coming to Birmingham in July 2021


A large crowd gathered in a stadium for opening ceremonies at The World Games 2017
Opening ceremonies for The World Games 2017. Photo via The World Games

Marking the 40th anniversary of The World Games, and for the first time since the 1981 debut, The World Games 2021 is returning to the United States. Of course, we couldn’t be more stoked that it will be held right here in Birmingham! Stay informed on all things related to The World Games 2021 by subscribing here.

What is The World Games 2021?

An old photo of ceremonies from World Games 1981
A photo from the first World Games in 1981. Photo via The World Games

If you aren’t entirely sure what The World Games 2021 is, then here are a few quick facts: 

  • The group who organizes The World Games 2021 is called the International World Games Association (IWGA), comprised of 37 different International Sports Federations.
  • The IWGA was founded in 1981, and the inaugural event was held later that year in Santa Clara, California. 
  • It is held every 4 years in the year following the Summer Olympic Games. Translation: that’s back-to-back years of friendly international contests, y’all. 
  • The World Games 2021 serves as an opportunity to contest a variety of sports that aren’t part of the Olympic Games.

This is why we’re so excited:

1. It’s a global experience

Three female Ukrainian athletes smile for a photo
A few Ukrainian athletes are all smiles at opening ceremonies of The World Games 2017. Photo via The World Games

Hosting The World Games 2021 is an epic international experience for the city of Birmingham. By doing so, we are welcoming more than 3500 athletes from over 100 countries. And that doesn’t even account for the people who will be visiting our fair city to enjoy it as much as we will. 

So, saying “It’s nice to have you in Birmingham” will take on a whole new meaning as we receive guests from all over the globe to The World Games 2021. 

2. There’s something fun for everyone

A large display of a bouldering and rock climbing walls
Bouldering and rock climbing are sports at The World Games? Yes, please. Photo via The World Games

This spectacular international competition is going to be a one-of-a-kind event for Birmingham families. I can’t wait to see what happens at the opening and closing ceremonies, and I definitely plan on spending time throughout the 10-day experience at World Games Plaza in Railroad Park. There will be live entertainment, food, sports demonstrations and coverage of the different competitions. 

But more than anything, it’s all about the sports.

Women's canoe polo teams at play
Okay, so canoe polo is a thing? I’m in. Photo via The World Games

Like I said, The World Games 2021 serves as an opportunity to contest a variety of sports you don’t see at the Olympics. Over the years, some games have been discontinued in The World Games as they became Olympic sports, and vice versa. And just like the Olympics, the world’s top athletes must qualify in order to compete in these competitions.

Throughout the course of then 10 day event, 600 medals will be awarded – of that, 200 will be gold medals. It’s going to be awesome!

3. We love volunteer opportunities

The US flying disc team is huddle together before a game
The US flying disc team at The World Games 2017. Photo via The World Games

If you want to be more than a fan at The World Games 2021, you’re in luck. To make this magic happen in the Magic City, 2200 volunteers are needed. Whether you’re a college student looking to bolster your resume or a sports fanatic wanting to get more involved – this is excellent news. In fact, you can go ahead and sign up for updates. 

4. Great programs with big goals for Birmingham

Women's speed skating competition
Speed skating is intense. Photo via The World Games

Ahead of the The World Games 2021, there are several programs already in the works for locals and local businesses to participate in, such as: 

  • World of Opportunity: The goal of this incredible initiative is connecting minority- and women- owned local business with The World Games 2021, to provide essential services and goods needed to ensure their success in 2021. 
  • Live Healthy, Play Global: Presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, this initiative is already rolling out in area schools and will spread across the state. The objective is to help students engage in physical activities with a global mindset.
Two children wrestle in sumo suits
The World Games 2021 Experience, delivered by Shipt. Photo via Bham Now
  • The World Games 2021 Experience, delivered by Shipt: This interactive mobile exhibit is already out and about, generating buzz. This includes trivia, a rock climbing wall and all sorts of fun activities.

Stay in the know

Two teams playing korfball
So, I had to look up korfball, but I immediately became a fan. Photo via The World Games

Altogether, this international sporting event is expected to generate an estimated economic impact of $256 million for the Magic City. And there will be 25 venues utilized throughout Greater Birmingham area – details coming in early 2020. 👀

So, if you want to know all the latest developments for The World Games 2021, sign up for updates. And get excited, Birmingham!

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We want to know! What are you looking forward to the most at The World Games 2021? Tag us on social @BhamNow or use #BhamNow.

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