Tonight (July 7), The World Games 2022 will kick off at 8 p.m. Central time at Protective Stadium in downtown Birmingham with a music-filled celebration of all things Alabama and a parade of athletes from more than 100 countries. It will be live streamed on theworldgames.org and TWG2022.com.
The show’s theme is “Unlocking The Magic: Celebrating The Power of The One.” Musical guests include gospel singer Yolanda Adams, the band Alabama and country singer Sara Evans, among many others. The show’s musical selections and choreography will “explore Birmingham’s past, present and future with musical and theatrical performances spanning a broad range of genres and generations,” according to a news release from The World Games.
The official theme song of the 2022 World Games is “Hope of Alabama,” an original song written by Alabama’s Randy Owen, his daughter Allison Owen and World Games Artistic Director Henry Panion III. The song will be sung during the opening and closing ceremonies. A video of the song features iconic artists Alabama, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Sara Evans, Taylor Hicks, Jamey Johnson, Pastor Mike Jr., Martha Reeves, Ruben Studdard, Yung Bleu and others who will perform at the opening and closing ceremonies.
The Opening Ceremony
The Opening Ceremony is the official start to The World Games 2022. From July 7 to 17, some 3,500 athletes from more than 100 countries will compete in 34 sports and disciplines not contested during the Olympics. Those sports include popular activities like dance, gymnastics, racquetball, bowling and karate, as well as emerging activities including lacrosse, archery, korfball, wushu, fistball and parkour. (Click here to see a full list of sports contested at this year’s World Games.)
Competitions will be held at venues throughout Birmingham, including at the BJCC, Legion Field, Oak Mountain State Park, Railroad Park, Sloss Furnaces, UAB, Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham Crossplex, Avondale Park and Birmingham Southern College. (Click here to see a schedule of events and ticket information.)
Athletes will vie for more than 200 medals to be awarded during the 11 days of competition, and several “firsts” are set to take place. For the first time, an Iroquois lacrosse team will represent Indigenous people. This summer’s competition also will mark the first time wheelchair rugby has been part of The World Games and the first time an adaptive sport is part of the regular sports program at an international, multisport athletic event that also includes non-adaptive sports.
What are the World Games?
The World Games is an international sports competition showcasing top athletes, held every four years and recognized by the International Olympic Committee. This summer is the 40th anniversary of The World Games and only the second time in the event’s history that a U.S. city will play host. In 1981, the first Games was held in Santa Clara, California. Since then they have been hosted by countries such as Germany, Japan and Colombia.
Originally planned for July 2021, Birmingham’s World Games were postponed one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The postponement gave planners more time to prepare for the influx of athletes and also for the thousands of volunteers and visitors who will participate in The Games. More than 3,000 volunteers will assist at venues throughout the city to welcome visitors and help The Games run as smoothly as possible.
The World Games is also expected to produce an economic boost for the Birmingham area. According to the International World Games Association, The Games will generate “an estimated economic impact of $256 million for the city.”
Things to know
The World Games will have a clear bag policy. Fans are permitted to bring clear bags no larger than 12x6x12 inches and small purses no larger than 4.5×6.5 inches. Fans are not permitted to bring backpacks, briefcases or large electronic devices. (Click here for more information on bag requirements and prohibited items.) An unopened water bottle is allowed, as are refillable water bottles. Water stations will be available at most venues.
Read more about ministry and prayer efforts surrounding The World Games here.