The World Games – “the highest profile event for sports not in the Olympic Games” according to the IOF Newsletter – have started on 20 July.
Chances are that you did not hear about The World Games from other sources. It is not carried by mainstream media. In Britain it is a “no event” for the BBC and Sky. Not a word on Lenta.ru, the leading Russian internet news portal. In Hungary you can read about the occasional Hungarian gold. You have to go to the IOF arena on facebook to find some excitement about The World Games.
There is nothing surprising about this silence. Not only most of the sports are somewhat offbeat, or shall I say, cater for a specific taste, but it overlaps with several major sport events. Just try to think about artistic roller skating, precision petanque, competitive life saving, indoor rowing, or dare I say, orienteering competing for media attention with the completely overlapping FINA Aquatic World Championships (swimming, open water, water polo, synchro, diving), and partially overlapping Tour de France, Fencing World Championships, Beach Volleyball World Championships, and several other world events in major olympic sports.
Despite the heroic effort of the IOF PR team to present The World Games, there are two aspects not mentioned: what is the point and how much does it cost.
Some notable points:
- The 2017 World Games budget has increased from €10,000 in August 2016 to €30,000 in January 2017. Plus 200% in 5 months! With such dynamics, it may not be the end of increases.
- The 2013 spend is huge, because almost all expertise (including people who can place a control on the morning of the event) had to be flown in on intercontinental flights.
- The final spend in 2013 was more likely to be more than €86,000. For example the 2011 budget of €5,000 turned into €17,500 spent. For 2012 we have only the budget, but actual spend may be much higher. There were also rumours at the time of last minute cost increases that may have been booked on other accounting lines.
- I am not aware of any summary report for multi-year “investments” like The World Games 2013. Apparently nobody considered important (or did not dare) to add up the how much was spent on these events.
The driver behind these inordinate expenses is of course the “Olympic dream”. The IOC is selling The World Games as a stepping stone to the Olympic Games. Some sport leaders are happy to buy this from the savings of their federations, no matter what the price is. In the next post we will contrast this promise with reality.
In the meantime you may want to have a look at the courses of the 2013 World Games in Cali, Colombia. It gives an interesting sneak preview how Olympic courses may look with all the constraints of cities with suboptimal environment for orienteering.
Would you spend €86,000 to organise this quality of event? Will you be happy to see this quality of orienteering competition to decide the Olympic medals?
(no worries, just a rhetoric question, we are extremely far from the danger of being included in the Olympic games)