Pandemic-delayed World Games open in Birmingham a year late

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Delayed for the year due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the World Games opens on Thursday in Alabama featuring more than 3,600 athletes participating in non-Olympic events including sumo wrestling, gymnastics, pickleball, karate and martial arts.

The opening ceremony, which will be held Thursday night at Protective Stadium in Birmingham, features Nelly’s games with the Alabama team. It will launch a 10-day tournament in the municipal area for about 40 games with participants from nearly 100 countries.

Organizers have said more than 350,000 tickets have been sold, and events will be available for live streaming. CBS Sports will broadcast on television for 12 hours.

Some tournaments have already been held. Hundreds of people hailed from Oxford, about 97 miles east of Birmingham, with spectacular matches between the USA Softball National Team, the Australian Team and the Japan Team.

Some roads in downtown Birmingham have been closed due to security concerns, but the city has also added new features, including a park built under the newly constructed Interstate 20/59. Most athletes are housed at the University of Alabama in Birmingham or in Birmingham-Southern College.

“Yesterday, an Egyptian karate team arrived in Birmingham-Southern. Today I was receiving reports from the Canadian lacrosse team and others, ”World Cup chief executive Nick Sellers said on Tuesday.

Originally scheduled for 2021, the World Games were delayed for a year due to the epidemic. Cases of COVID-19 and hospital admissions are on the rise, but state hospitals are far less likely to expand staff and patient care facilities.

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