The qualification process for the 12th edition of The World Games has just begun, and the first country to make its debut at the Games from 7th to 17th August 2025 in Chengdu, People’s Republic of China has already been selected. Athletes from Benin will participate for the first time in the event, which includes 35 sports and 60-plus disciplines.
The West African country qualified for the Pétanque Classic - Doubles Mixed medal event at The World Games 2025 during the World Boules Sports Championships. The first athletes from China have also secured their participation in the Games in their home country; they will also be competing for gold in Pétanque Classic - Doubles Mixed.
The qualification of the 5,000 participants from probably more than 100 nations will be completed by 31st March 2025. About 90 per cent of the participants will secure their starting place next year.
The first tickets for Chengdu were already booked in July, in Fistball. Austria, Brazil, defending champions Germany and Switzerland qualified for TWG 2025 at the World Championships.
In the meantime, seven of the eight teams for the Korfball tournament during TWG have also been determined. The Karate World Championships in Budapest were also not only about gold, but also about a place on the mat in Chengdu. Amongst others, Japan's karateka Hikaru Ono, IWGA Athlete of the Month for October 2023, secured her chance to win a gold medal at the Games. Qualifiers in Wushu and Floorball are among the events scheduled for November and December.
But how does an athlete or a team qualify for The World Games in the first place? It is important to know that it is not the countries that send their athletes to China. The 35 participating international sports federations decide on the qualification criteria. Criteria can include the world ranking list; this is used in Lifesaving, for example. Other federations determine their athletes by results at world championships, or continental title fights. The German women's Fistball team, for example, will be in Chengdu because they won the European Championship this autumn.
There can also be a mix of criteria. That applies to Karate; here, the best three athletes from the World Championships qualify first, and further places are allocated via the world rankings. In addition, many federations guarantee the host country China a wild card.
It is not always the case that a successful athlete at a championship secures her or his personal starting number for the Games being held in 19 months' time. In Gymnastics, for example, success is only for the country. So if a Mexican wins, it only means that Mexico is participating in this discipline. Who actually competes is decided by the national gymnastics federations.
Not to be forgotten: The International World Games Association also has rules. One of them, since the beginning in 1981, is that only the best in the respective discipline or medal event may compete. In other words, there must be a chance of winning a medal. To ensure diversity, athletes from at least three continents must also participate.
This is to ensure that the spectators experience top-class sport in each medal event, and that only the best of the best can say: “I am The World Games Champion.”
The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association, organised with the support of the International Olympic Committee. The World Games 2022 was held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from 34 sports and 100 countries took part in the Games. The 12th edition of The World Games will be held in Chengdu, CHN, 7-17 August 2025.