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World Games

Updated on September 9, 2011
The logo from the 2009 World Games
The logo from the 2009 World Games

The World Games is the biggest sporting event you've never heard of, a forum for sportspeople whose sports are not contested in the Olympic Games to compete against one another at an international level. The World Games is held every four years and was most recently held in 2009 in Taiwan. The next World Games will be held in 2013 in Cali, Colombia.

With an illustrious history going back thirty years to the first World Games held in 1981, the World Games has some very interesting rules associated with its running. The most interesting of these is the rule that the city that hosts the World Games may not build any new facilities in order for a sport to be played there. If a host city does not have the facilities to host a specific event, then that event is not included that year. These rules seem designed to enhance the already eclectic and apparently random nature of the World Games line up, keeping amateur athletes and sports fanatics alike guessing.

Sports played at the 2009 World Games included:

Artistic Rollerskating

Canoe Polo


Flying Disc

Tug of War


World Games Invitational Sports

Not every sport played at the World Games is eligeable for medals. Some sports are 'invitational', which means the host country can invite teams from around the world to compete, but no medals will be given. Whether a sport is 'invitational' or official in any given year depends largely on the whims of the IOC and the hosting city.

Past World Games Invitational sports have included:

  • Baton Twirling
  • Bahn Golf
  • Floorball
  • Gateball

World Games Discontinued Sports

The World Games is overseen by the International Olympic Committee, a body which seems to have a death stranglehold on what should be one of the most excellent sporting occasions in the world. At the behest of the ICO, the number of competitors allowed to attend the World Games is limited to just over ten thousand participants. On the positive side, many of the sports first represented at the World Games eventually make the crossover into the Olympic Games. Badminton, Taekwondo, Trampolining and Women's Weightlifting all became Olympic sports after a trial period at the World Games.

Other sports are not so lucky, and are discontinued even from the World Games. Sports that have been declared unworthy of official global competition include:

  • Roller Hockey
  • Netball
  • Nine Pin Bowling
  • Casting (a sport in which people compete to cast fishing lines with the utmost skill.)

The 2013 World Games in Cali, Columbia

The 2013 World Games event will be held in Cali, a picturesque city known as the second city of Colombia. The following sports are currently on the roster to be played in 2013:

Ball Sports

  • Canoe Polo
  • Beach Handball
  • Korfball
  • Rugby
  • Fistball
  • Squash
  • Raquetball

Precision Sports

  • Archery
  • Billiards
  • Bowling

Martial Arts

  • Ju-jitsu
  • Karate Do
  • Sumo

Power Sports

  • Tug of War
  • Powerlifting

Trend Sports

  • Climbing
  • Air Sports
  • Flying Disc
  • Waterski
  • Lifesaving
  • Orienteering
  • Roller Sports
  • Hockey
  • Fin Swimming

Artistic and Dancing Sports

  • Gymnastics
  • Artistic Rollerskating


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