With the World Games starting on Thursday, here is part two of our alphabetical summary of all you need to know about the 10-day sporting extravaganza.
M — Mascots
As usual with mascots, Gao Mei (高妹, literally “tall girl”) and Syong Ge (雄哥, “brave boy”) look as if they’ve been designed by a three-year-old on Ritalin. According to the marketing blurb Gao and Syong, whose names together form the name of the host city, are: “the shape of water droplets and translucent, the two water spirits personify Kaohsiung as a city of the sea and the sun.” Their halos absorb solar energy like the roof of the main stadium and “illuminate with a message of ecology and environmental protection.” Yeah, right.
N — Ninety-nine
Ninety-nine countries were to be represented in Kaohsiung (now it’s 105).
O — Olympics approved
The World Games is under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee and the IWGA abides by all principles of the Olympic Charter.
P — Pollution
Kaohsiung is an industrial city and surrounded by several steel works and oil refineries. Although its pollution problems are serious, they are thankfully nowhere near the level of last year’s Olympic host Beijing, so motorists can relax. Nevertheless, the Kaohsiung Organizing Committee still had to drain Lotus Lake — where the water-skiing, dragon boat racing and canoe polo will take place — after plans to clean up the lake’s algae problem using fish failed.
Around 850,000 tonnes of fresh water will have been pumped into the lake ahead of the Games to bring the water quality up to a standard fit for water sports.
Q — Quadrennial
Just like their more famous counterpart the Olympics, the World Games are held every four years.
R — Russia
If recent World Games are the yardstick, then the Russians will be the team to beat in Kaohsiung, having topped the medals table for the last two Games in Duisburg in 2005 and Akita in 2001.
S — Slogan
The official slogan of the World Games is “THE WORLD GAMES: 30+ SPORTS AT THEIR BEST!”
T — Tickets
Selling tickets is often a problem for the hosts of big sporting events and the Kaohsiung World Games is no exception. According to reports on July 8, only about 25 percent of tickets for the Games had been sold. A face-saving mass ticket giveaway may be in the offing.
U — Underused?
Although the main stadium is impressive, apart from the opening and closing ceremonies, it will only be used for the Rugby Sevens and Frisbee events. Let’s hope this inspiring piece of architecture is put to good use after the Games and does not become a gigantic white elephant (or should that be “white dragon”?).
V — Venues
Unlike the Olympics, the World Games host city isn’t required to build facilities or extend upon available infrastructure for the sake of hosting the Games. But Kaohsiung still built a brand new stadium. Twenty-three venues will be used in total, including Kaohsiung Swimming Pool (fin swimming and life saving), Kaohsiung Senior High School Gymnasium (Sumo) and Siziwan (beach handball, life saving).
W — Weather
With the average high this month well above 30ºC and humidity hovering at 75 percent, athletes not used to competing in such conditions for outdoor events such as orienteering and rugby could struggle.
X — Exchanges
Sports are regularly exchanged between the Olympics and the World Games. The World Games serve as a breeding ground for Olympic sports and also picks up sports rejected from the Olympics. The triathlon started off in the World Games before becoming an Olympic sport in 2000, as did taekwondo. Similarly, sports that get kicked off the Olympic roster end up in the World Games. Softball will feature in Kaohsiung just a year after getting bumped from the Olympics.