GAISF Seeks Bid Cities To Host Inaugural World Urban Games

The Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) Friday announced the launch of a process to site the inaugural edition of the World Urban Games, “a downtown, five-day celebration featuring a new-generation of sports and a showcase for the skill, style and power of the most successful and inspirational urban athletes, riders and break-dancers on the planet.”

Photo: GAISF

The GAISF is targeting a 2019 launch for the new Games concept unveiled at the SportAccord Convention in Bangkok, Thailand this week.  The date could be extended to 2020, however, as it consults with prospective host cities.

The Games could also be launched under a new name, as World Urban Games is only a working title, according to the GAISF.

The program for the event will include up to 14 disciplines of Olympic and non-Olympic sports, according to a set list of seven criteria.  They could include 3×3 Basketball, BMX Freestyle Cycling, Breakdance, Boulder Sports Climbing, Freestyle Flying Disc, Parkour, Roller Freestyle, Inline Freestyle and Skateboard.

According to a GAISF statement, “The World Urban Games could involve around 700 competitors along with 300 team officials and is designed to be staged on a single, easily accessible downtown site and Festival Plaza with a contained operational footprint.”

“The events will avoid use of public roads and allow for host cities to make proposals for events in accordance with local culture and traditions.”

A consultation stage has begun involving an initial list of interested potential host cities and international federations, and a more formalized bid process will begin at a later date.  Meeting with cities have already been held at the SportAccord Convention this week.

It is hoped that the inaugural host city will be chosen by the end of the year.

The GAISF, meanwhile, announced that the World Combat Games will be retooled, reduced in size, and held next in 2021 instead of 2019 as previously planned.

GAISF President Patrick Baumann said “We are extremely proud to launch the World Urban Games which will be a landmark event and presents significant opportunities for any city looking to organize an innovative, fun and accessible multi-sport event at the heart of its city.

“We had a very positive response from International Federations and potential host cities this week and I look forward to continuing that dialogue.

“The programme and festival will showcase all that is best about sports which have been forged by youth and urban culture and which celebrate competition, creativity, lifestyle and the engagement between competitors and fans.

The Olympic Games involve more traditional sports, and many critics believe the concept is losing touch with modern-day youth who may have a different access to sport.  Though new sports, such as skateboarding, surfing and climbing have been added to the Tokyo 2020 programme to address young interests – a new urban sports event could help fill the gap and perhaps act as test ground ahead of possible Olympic Games inclusion.

GAISF President Patrick Baumann at 2018 SportAccord Convention (SportAccord Photo)

Baumann added “The World Urban Games are designed to reflect how sport refuses to stand still and will continue to evolve as our lifestyles and leisure choices change.”

“But while these are new sports to many, they demand the same determination, skill, bravery, commitment and single-minded pursuit of excellence as all others.”

Hosting of the event will be accessible for many cities due to its compact size and adaptability to the urban environment.  Costs will be manageable, disruption will be limited and the concept is sustainable.

The GAISF believed this to be a great opportunity for the inaugural host city that will help design the concept and leave a legacy for the sports involved.

“For five days, the inaugural host city will become the beating heart of these sports and the focus of major global media attention. Together with GAISF and all IFs involved, the selected host will make history and be inextricably linked with the youthful vibrancy of a truly 21st Century sporting event,” Baumann said.

About Robert Livingstone

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.