The summer of 2021 promises to be packed with exciting sporting events worldwide, as many postponed in 2020 finally take place.
The most apparent victim of last year’s restrictions was the Tokyo Olympics, postponed until this year. The Hindustan Times reports there has been public opposition to the Games going ahead in 2021, but organisers are pressing on with plans anyway. That means more than 11,000 athletes will take part across 339 events in 33 different sports, all hunting for that elusive and prestigious gold medal.
Indian eyes will be on the likes of Saikhom Mirabai Chanu, Atanu Das and Deepika Kumari to bag a gold medal, with archery and weightlifting two events that athletes from the country excel in. Other sports at the Olympics include gymnastics, field hockey and shooting, all of which could see India in contention for a medal. However, could there also be gold for racquetball, orienteering and tug of war in 2022? Those are not Olympic sports, but they do feature on the roster of the lesser-known World Games, set to take place in the United States in 2022. The Games take place across 11 days, and an infographic by Bwin Sports explains how events include canoe polo, billiards and even fistball. All are fine sports in their own right with no spot at the Olympics, so the World Games offers competitors a chance to showcase their skills on the world stage. Also, the host city is allowed to select certain sports, with the 2022 lineup including flag football, wushu, and wheelchair rugby.
India will compete at the World Games, alongside Great Britain, the United States and a host of other countries, with an array of events not on the Olympic roster set to take centre stage. The Games started in 1981 and traditionally take place a year after the Olympics. Non-Olympic federations wanted to form their own event to increase publicity for their sports, with 15 officially on the calendar for the inaugural event. Since then, another 16 have been added, spanning 54 disciplines. That means 223 medal events available for the 3,600 competing athletes.
Italy is the most successful competitor across the history of the Games, with 153 gold medals and 441 in total. They are followed by the United States, Germany, Russia and France in fifth. India has just four medals, one gold, one silver and two bronze. The gold medal picked up by Aditya Mehta at Cali 2013 is the last one won in both the Olympics and World Games by an Indian competitor, with him taking the top accolade in the Men’s Singles Snooker. In 1989, Sumita Laha took silver in the Women’s Heavyweight Powerlifting, with Rekha Mal picking up bronze in the Women’s Lightweight Powerlifting.
The World Games 2022 is scheduled to take place in July next year, kicking off on the 7th and continuing until the 17th. The host city for the 11th edition of the Games is Birmingham, Alabama. Whilst it might not have the prestige and profile of the Olympics, it is an ever-expanding competition that is increasingly grabbing headlines and taking some spotlight for itself, albeit a year after the traditional Games.
Could 2022 be the year when India begins to climb the World Games roster? If not, it is definitely worth checking out as a showcase event for plenty of great sports you might not otherwise get to see.