World Games

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.[lower-alpha 1] 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.

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.


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 1 104  United States
1985 2 London  United Kingdom Charles Palmer 1227 57 20 1 134  Italy
1989 3 Karlsruhe  West Germany Richard von Weizsäcker 1206 50 17 2 112  Italy
1993 4 The Hague  Netherlands Beatrix of the Netherlands 2264 72 22 4 155  Germany
1997 5 Lahti  Finland Martti Ahtisaari 1379 73 22 6 164  United States
2001 6 Akita  Japan Atsuko Toyama 1968 93 22 5 140  Russia
2005 7 Duisburg  Germany Otto Schily 2464 93 27 6 169  Russia
2009 8 Kaohsiung  Chinese Taipei1 Ma Ying-jeou 2536 101 26 5 165  Russia
2013 9 Cali  Colombia Angelino Garzón 2982 103 26 5 171  Italy
2017 10 Wrocław  Poland Thomas Bach 3168 102 27 4 199  Russia
2021 11 Birmingham  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 were the official sports/disciplines of the 2017 World Games programme.[3]

Artistic and dance sports

Ball sports

Martial arts

Precision sports

Strength sports

Trend sports

Invitational sports

All-time medal table

Through the 2017 World Games

Top ten total medal ranking[5][6][7][8][9][10]
1 Italy153147141441
2 United States[lower-alpha 2]145129105379
3 Germany[lower-alpha 3]138111140389
4 Russia[lower-alpha 4]13711072319
5 France103101105309
6 China695528152
7 Great Britain[lower-alpha 2][lower-alpha 5]596291212
8 Japan553853146
9 Ukraine[lower-alpha 6]424737126
10 Spain414342126
Totals (10 nations)9428438142599
  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 1997 bronze medalists in aerobics mixed pair were from Great Britain, not United States as stated in IWGA source.[11]
  3. In 2017, Germany was stripped of a gold medal in women's bowling for doping. This table reflects the reallocation of medals for that event.[12]
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. In 2009, Ukraine was stripped of two gold medals in bodybuilding for doping, which are not included here.

See also



    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. "TWG2017 Documents". Retrieved 16 September 2014.
    4. First time official sport in 2017.
    5. "Results of the World Games". International World Games Association. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
    6. "2009 Kaohsiung: Doping Violations". International World Games Association. Retrieved 2017-11-12.
    7. "The World Games 2009 Kaosiung". International Sumo Federation. Retrieved 2017-11-12.
    8. "The World Games 2013 Cali Medal Tally". Retrieved 2015-10-26.
    9. "International Sumo Federation – World Games". Retrieved 2015-11-01.
    10. "World Games I Results". United Press International. 29 July 1981.
    11. "DYBO Health & Fitness". Retrieved 2019-10-16. ... multi British Sports Aerobics champions Helen Carpenter-Waters and Alastair Rates who became GB’s only ever medallists at World level
    12. Butler, Nick (5 July 2018). "Bowler, kickboxer and indoor rower stripped of World Games medals for doping". Inside the Games. Dunsar Media Company Limited. Retrieved 2019-10-22.
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