Ground-breaking Brum – hosts of the 2023 ISBA World Games
There are just six months to go until Birmingham makes sporting history once again.
Just over a year after hosting the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the city is set to welcome thousands of blind and partially sighted athletes for the 2023 International Blind Sport Federation (IBSA) World Games.
The first global sporting event of its kind to be hosted in the UK, the Games will take place at venues across Edgbaston and the wider West Midlands region, including our beautiful university campus, between 18-27 August.
The World Games will see around 1,250 blind and partially sighted athletes from 70 countries competing in 11 sports – three of which include men’s blind football, men’s and women’s goalball, and judo which are qualification tournaments for the 2024 Paralympic Games.
Other sports being featured include shooting, archery, chess, men’s and women’s cricket, powerlifting, ten pin bowling, tennis, and showdown.
Organisers are predicting that the World Games will be the largest gathering of blind athletes ever brought to the UK, and the largest blind sporting event in the world in 2023.
And with under six months to go, hundreds of support staff, volunteers, and technical officials are being recruited and selected from across the world to help make the event the best it can be. The search is being led by event management company MLS Contracts Ltd, who are responsible for delivering this unique multi-sport event, alongside its stakeholders, including the University of Birmingham.
With phase one of the entry process just about to conclude, organisers are buoyed at the level of registrations which, in some sports, are exceeding forecasts.
Birmingham is hosting the seventh edition of the World Games – which is held every four years – following a successful joint bid between British Blind Sport, Birmingham City Council, Sport Birmingham, UK Sport, and the University of Birmingham.
Sallie Barker, Chair at British Blind Sport who are the host federation for this year’s Games, said: “Hosting the 2023 IBSA World Games has the potential to be a watershed moment for the two million people in the UK who are blind or partially sighted – many of whom are currently reluctant to engage in sporting activities due to a range of factors.
“Not only will this World Games showcase to the wider public blind and partially sighted athletes’ abilities, but it is also aiming to inspire other blind and partially sighted individuals to take advantage of the pathways into sport and other volunteering opportunities in their own communities.
“As the host of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Birmingham put on a great festival of sport. In hosting the IBSA World Games, Birmingham and Great Britain will again aim to show that it can provide the best possible stage for the world’s best athletes to showcase their talents.”
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is the lead sponsor of the 2023 IBSA World Games and is hoping the legacy of the World Games will help to build on a recent collaboration with British Blind Sport, See Sport Differently, which is aimed at getting more blind and partially sighted people into sport.
David Clarke, RNIB Chief Operating Officer and record goalscoring Paralympics GB footballer, added: “There are many sports that people wrongly think blind and partially sighted people are unable to participate in, and hopefully the World Games will challenge these misconceptions. It is my sincere hope that this global event will encourage more people with sight loss to get involved in sport, as well encouraging sports providers to improve their inclusivity.”
Pro Vice Chancellor, Professor David Adams at University of Birmingham commented: “We are incredibly proud to be providing the Games Village and many sports facilities for the World Games.
“I am excited at the prospect of seeing the campus – which will include hosting the Games Village at The Vale – becoming a hive of activity over the coming months as preparations ramp up to welcome athletes, support staff and spectators from across the globe.”