World Games 2022 CEO Nick Sellers said Tuesday that he expects no limits on attendance because of COVID-19 by the time the World Games arrive in Birmingham from July 7-17, 2022.
“We fully expect to have full venues again,” Sellers said.
He hopes the World Games can help “re-connect humanity” in a post-pandemic world.
It will also showcase Alabama and its love for sports, he said.
“I think the world’s going to see what we already know,” Sellers said. “There’s a new Alabama emerging.”
Jimmy Parnell, president and CEO of Alfa Insurance Co., joined Sellers at Bartow Arena to announce Alfa’s sponsorship agreement with the World Games.
“I didn’t know what the World Games was,” Parnell said. “It took a little education.”
It’s an Olympic-style event featuring competition in 34 sports, with 3,600 athletes competing from more than 100 countries.
“It’s a real good opportunity for this state,” Parnell said. “What I’m really focused on is the image of this state. We have a wonderful state. It’s beautiful. Our economy is growing. This is really a good platform for us to showcase the state.”
Sellers said the World Games is raising a budget of $50 million to host the games in Birmingham. So far, more than 20 sponsors have lined up and committed more than $20 million, he said. The World Games has raised more than $30 million in commitments from public and private funding, he said.
Sellers said the World Games works with the International Olympic Committee and features potential next-generation sports such as flag football and some that are already in the Olympics, such as women’s softball.
The U.S. women’s softball team that participates in the World Games will also participate in the Olympics, he said.
Teams in flag football will compete at Legion Field, while water skiing and wakeboarding teams will compete at Oak Mountain State Park.
There will be a variety of sports on display at 20 or more venues, he said.
Alfa will sponsor a program to honor the high school Male and Female Athlete and Coach of the Year during the World Games, said Steve Savarese, executive director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association.
“We’re passionate about sport in this state,” Savarese said.
As part of the partnership, Alfa and The World Games 2022 will announce the Alabama High School Male and Female Athlete and Coach Of The Year in conjunction with The Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) during Athletes’ Night on July 12, 2022.
“These kids and coaches will never forget something like this,” Savarese said.
“Alfa has a long history of supporting youth sports, including an ongoing sponsorship of the Alabama High School Athletic Association,” Parnell said. “To honor some of our state’s best athletes during a once-in-a-lifetime event like The World Games is an incredible opportunity. This will be a lifelong memory for those athletes and for those of us at Alfa as well.”
Country singer Randy Owen and former NBA star Charles Barkley will be honorary co-chairmen for the World Games.