Last night, Birmingham welcomed the world to an electric, unity-focused Opening Ceremony at Protective Stadium. We know half of y’all were there, so if you want to relive the moment or share with friends or family who weren’t, we’ve got you covered. Learn more about the largest event Alabama’s ever hosted and check out our photos from the evening.
Some fun facts about The World Games 2022 (TWG 2022) Birmingham
Before we get into the Opening Ceremony recap, here are some fun facts:
- 1981: The World Games is held for the first time in Santa Clara, California.
- 2015: The year then-Mayor William Bell signs the agreement, in Russia, to bring The World Games to Birmingham.
- 2021: The World Games is supposed to happen, but COVID has other plans.
- 2022: The World Games 2022 Birmingham begins. It’s the:
- 11th edition of The World Games.
- 2nd time ever on US soil.
- First-ever international competition featuring both able-bodied athletes and people with disabilities.
According to Nick Sellers, CEO of The World Games 2022, TWG 2022 is the first “full-fan experience at a major international sporting event in the US” since the start of the pandemic.
Remember: most athletes competing at an international level (perhaps with the exception of soccer in some parts of the world) have been playing with greatly reduced crowds since early 2020. Last year’s Olympics in Japan severely restricted fan attendance.
Noah Galloway brought the American flag to Protective Stadium
Birmingham native Noah Galloway, Honorary Co-Chair of TWG 2022, brought the American flag into Protective Stadium for the last leg of its cross-country relay.
ICYMI, here’s a little background on Galloway, who you may have seen on Dancing with the Stars:
“An embodiment of the American spirit,Noah Galloway enlisted in the United States Army following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. He became a Sergeant in the 1st Battalion of the 502nd Infantry, 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was severely injured during an IED attack in Yusafiah, Iraq on December 19, 2005. The attack led to Galloway losing his left arm above the elbow and his left leg above the knee.”
In an interview with CBS 42 during the Opening Ceremony, Galloway talked about how moving it was for him to meet athletes from Iraq as part of this experience.
The crowd burst into applause for the Ukrainian delegation
“It was incredibly exciting to witness the “Parade of Athletes” where each country’s athletes walked into the stadium, and especially cool to realize that with each smile and wave, we were representing Birmingham and Alabama!”Cecilia Wood, Social Media Manager, Bham Now
Mayor Woodfin drove home the theme of unity
Birmingham’s Mayor Randall Woodfin drove home a strong message of unity last night. Here are some snippets:
“Tonight, we make history together, in the name of unity…You will see firsthand what Southern hospitality is all about. Birmingham, Alabama is here and we’re once again ready to change the globe… You are the legacy of unity.”
Tons of talent went into making the Opening Ceremony a night to remember
Top-notch entertainment at last night’s Opening Ceremony, including Sharrif Simmons, Bootsy Collins and Sheila E. (Bham Now)
Topping the talent list is Grammy Award-winning UAB Music Professor Henry Panion III, Ph.D., who’s serving as Music Director for The World Games.
According to UAB News, Panion “has written more than 45 new orchestral works for this production, including new orchestral arrangements of the artists’ hit songs, as well as fresh arrangements of songs like ‘America the Beautiful’ and ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’”
- A 75-piece orchestra, which included members of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra
- A 120-member youth choir
- A 120-member gospel choir
- The Jacksonville State University Marching Southerners tuba section
- Field pageantry artists
Hope of Alabama was the grand finale
The evening ended with “Hope of Alabama”, the theme song of TWG 2022, written by Randy Owen of Alabama fame, his daughter Alison Sena Yeuell and Dr. Henry Panion III. All artists who performed on the track are from the state of Alabama, providing another opportunity to showcase our state’s deep well of talent.
The last word: drones were on display
The evening began with a guy flying *on top of a drone* and ended with a drone Vulcan.
Events begin Friday, July 8 and continue through Sunday, July 17. Find out what events and venues still have tickets + get yours today. In case you’re wondering, sumo’s sold out.