Tue, Jun 15, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Kaohsiung wins bid to host World Games 2009

GRABBING THE LIMELIGHT After a two-year lobbying campaign, Kaohsiung has been selected to host the Eighth World Games, an international sporting event

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

In an effort to prevent Beijing from monopolizing the limelight with the 2008 Olympics, Kaohsiung has won its bid to host the 2009 World Games, signing a contract yesterday to host the world's second-largest international sports tournament with officials from the International World Games Association (IWGA).

Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), together with the head of the National Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, Chen Chuan-shou (陳全壽), signed the contract with IWGA President Ron Froehlich and IWGA Secretary-General Co Koren yesterday afternoon in Kaohsiung's landmark Ocean Star Square.

"I call on the people of Taiwan to congratulate Taiwan and Kaohsiung on winning the bid to host the World Games," Hsieh said in the signing ceremony. "After being blocked by the People's Republic of China for a long time, Taiwan has finally succeeded in its bid to host the World Games, thanks to the unflagging efforts of the city's officials."

Hsieh said that the World Games are a very important international sporting event, and that Taiwan cannot afford to not participate in it, as participating in the World Games will lift the level of domestic athletes and facilitate the city's development in manufacturing and tourism.

The Eighth World Games are scheduled to take place in Kaohisung from July 16 to July 26 in 2009, and nearly 100 countries and 3,000 athletes will take part in the event.

"Hopefully Taiwan will obtain worldwide attention from the international media because of this grand sporting event and will have more opportunities to join in the international affairs," Hsieh said.

Often called the "little Olympics," the World Games were initiated in 1981 by the IWGA, and now have 99 participating member countries, according to Cheng Ying-yao (鄭英耀), Kaohsiung City Government's Bureau of Education chief. Cheng was in charge of coordinating the bid to host the World Games for the past two years.

Cheng said the World Games are a quadrennial international sports tournament that are second only to the Olympics in scale. Some sporting events that are currently not on the Olympics program are played in the World Games, and some of the popular events that have recently joined the Olympics -- such as badminton, baseball and taekwondo -- gained added popularity after originally featuring in the World Games.

The Sixth World Games were held in Akita, Japan in 2001, and the Seventh World Games will be held in Duisburg, Germany in the summer of next year.

During the 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung, there will be 31 official sports events such as bodybuilding, life-saving, billiards, bowling, water skiing, tug of war, rock climbing and so forth. Three invitational sports including Tchoukball, croquet and dragon boat racing will be added in 2009, Cheng said.

Unlike the Olympics, the athletes who participate in the World Games are introduced during the opening ceremony according to their event, not their nationality. Therefore, there will no problems about the names or flags of the teams, Cheng said.

Kaohisung City Government will invest NT$7.8 billion to build a multifunctional Sports Dome for the World Games, which is slated to be completed in 2006, the same year the city's new MRT system will be completed.

Cheng Li-chun (鄭勵君), an official with the Bureau of Education, said that the IWGA representatives who visited Kaohsiung last November were quite satisfied with the city's current facilities.

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