The Homewood Chamber of Commerce hosted Nick Sellers, CEO of The World Games 2022, as its keynote speaker at The Club in Homewood on Dec. 14.
Sellers updated members about the several events and festivities that will take place at The World Games in the summer of 2022.
“This is not a hyperbole; this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for this community,” Sellers said.
The World Games, Sellers said, is supported by the International Olympic Committee.
“Some of the same athletes, Olympians, who competed in Tokyo will be competing right here in our hometown next summer in front of a global audience of over 100 countries and a domestic audience of over 100 million people,” Sellers said.
Sellers said The World Games expects more than half a million people to be in Birmingham for 10 days, from July 7-17.
“We will have an opportunity to showcase our city and our state in a very special way,” Sellers said.
The World Games is in its 40th year and 11th edition, he said. This will be the first time the Games will be in the United States since its inception in 1981, Sellers said.
The International Olympic Committee, Sellers said, has more than 100 sports that want to be recognized on the summer Olympic platform but only 24-26 are able to compete.
There will be a total of 34 sports featured in The World Games including boxing, gymnastics, tug of war, lacrosse, wushu, sports climbing and wheelchair rugby, among others.
Sellers said The World Games 2022 will be the first international sporting event in history to have competitions for athletes with and without disabilities.
“I will submit to you that in 2022, there is no bigger event, in terms of international sports, in the world outside of the Beijing Olympics than The World Games,” Sellers said.
The World Games has received around $15 million from the public sector and has raised around $25 million from the private sector, with the Games being sponsored by more than 70 companies, Sellers said.
He said he and other World Games organizers made a commitment to Birmingham that whatever investment received from the public and private sectors, 35% of that will go to local women and minority-owned businesses.
The Iroquois Nationals, the lacrosse team that represents the Haudenosaunee Nation, will also be one of the eight teams to compete in lacrosse at The World Games after initially not being recognized as a sovereign nation by the International Olympic Committee.
The men’s Irish lacrosse team withdrew from The World Games so that the Nationals would be able to compete in the Games, he said.
Sellers said the organizing committee for The World Games along with international groups, such as the Canadian Women Committee, started a petition to present to the World Games Committee and the IOC to allow the Iroquois Nationals to compete.
As a result, the Haudenosaunee Nation will instead hold a refugee status with the IOC so they will be able to compete, Sellers said.
He said there will be several festivities coinciding with The World Games that have yet to be announced but he is excited about.
Holiday packages for The World Games are available as gifts this holiday season, he said. Packages will include tickets, a merchandise gift card and a commemorative World Games hat.
At the end of the meeting, the gavel was passed from Matthew Savela to Will O’Donnell, making him the new president of the chamber.