IWGA and the IOC

Part of the Olympic Movement

Two Memoranda of Understanding have been signed between the IWGA and the IOC, regulating the relationship between the two organisations. Beyond committing to the Olympic ideals of excellence, friendship, solidarity and fair play, both entities agreed to cooperate closely regarding the sports programme composition and relevant evaluations, which eases the transition for some disciplines from The World Games to the Olympic Games.  

Sports and disciplines that have made the transition from The World Games to the Olympic Programme (between 1984 and 2021) include:

  • Badminton
  • Baseball / Softball
  • Beach Volleyball
  • Karate
  • Rugby Sevens
  • Sport Climbing
  • Taekwondo
  • Trampoline Gymnastics
  • Triathlon

The newest agreement confirms that the IOC recognises the importance of The World Games as a multisport event, and that the IWGA is committed to developing its activities in the Olympic spirit and in conformity with the Olympic Charter.

The IOC agrees to grant patronage to Organising Committees of The World Games and to provide technical assistance. Furthermore, the IOC provides its expertise and help to promote IWGA’s activities within the Olympic Movement, and encourages the NOCs to support and assist their national multisport delegations taking part in TWG.

Sports Programme

The IWGA accepts that only events that are not on the programme of the immediately preceding Summer or Winter Olympic Games, or Paralympic Games, can be included in the programme of The World Games.  

Since 2014, IOC recognition has become a prerequisite for IFs to become a Member of the IWGA. From 2020, federations being part of the Olympic Games and therefore being listed in the Olympic Charter cannot apply for IWGA Membership any more.

From The World Games 2025, a specific quota of up to 400 participants will be determined in consultation with the IOC, to enable new sports and formats to be contested at The World Games.

With many International Federations and athletes unsuccessfully striving for inclusion in the Olympic Games, the sports programme can be deemed complementary to the Olympic Movement, with athletes competing for gold in their sports, disciplines and events every four years.

Olympic Channel

Ensuring global coverage and expanded digital reach for The World Games 2017, the Olympic Channel has been collaborating with the IWGA on different projects such as the Archive and annual media workshops.  


While no formal agreement has been reached with the IPC, disabled athletes will participate in The World Games 2022 for the first time through the support of the local Lakeshore Foundation in Birmingham, Alabama.   

The Olympic Games and The World Games:  


Athletes' participation

Both events unite the world’s best athletes under one roof, competing for gold and celebrating in peace and friendship. Similar to the Olympic Games, The World Games is the pinnacle event in their career.

For athletes to compete at The World Games, they need to qualify through select events of the International Federations. Qualification systems must allow for the participation of the best athletes through a fair and transparent process. The principle of universality shall be reflected in qualification systems. The IFs will seek to achieve a satisfactory balance between performance and a fair representation of as many as possible nations and continents.  

Role as umbrella organisation

The IOC’s global vision is to build a better world through sport. As part of the Olympic Movement, the IWGA strives to unite and develop communities in and through sport.

Apart from the Games, the IWGA has been promoting gender equality, sustainability and good governance practices within the Games and The World Games family.


Athlete nomination

In contrast to the Olympic Games and other recognised sports events, the national sports authorities (NSO/NOC) do not nominate the participating athletes. However, some International Federations nominate athletes and teams in consultation with the national sports authorities.

Infrastructure and budget

While both IOC and IWGA share similar principles and values, The World Games has a different event concept.  

Since the first edition of The World Games, the IWGA has implemented a unique venue approach, based on a complete personalisation to the host city characteristics and the principle of sustainability as a driving force.  
The goal is to adapt the sports programme to the existing infrastructure and create the best possible experience for athletes and fans. Through an event with a global dimension, The World Games manages to maximise the local impact for the population, city and regions with a considerably lower budget.