The Reuters global sports blog
Reporters covering matches between the planet’s top tug-of-war teams at the 2009 World Games in Taiwan this past week would work from the press box of a middle school gymnasium cooled by ceiling fans and run by six volunteers with nothing to do but make sure the computer lines worked.
The actual battleground was the school’s field; a sell-out crowd of about 300 sat on the school’s bleachers after paying just $3 per ticket. International World Games Association officials watched from a lean-to on the grass.
Across town at a wooded art museum campus, the venue for world-class orienteering, reporters could get so close to competitors that one had to take special care to avoid the scribes while sprinting for hidden objects. Fans sat on benches next to the sweaty contestants, close enough to ask questions or take sharp photos of the medal ceremony.
These are snapshots from the 2009 World Games, a quadrennial sub-Olympic event that unites 31 sports that lack global appeal today but have a shot at actual Olympic admission as early as 2016.
After the globe giggled at Athens in 2004 for letting swathes of Olympics seats go empty, organisers of the far more obscure 2009 World Games in equally obscure Taiwan are doing whatever it takes to pack the venues for such unlikely events as billiards and beach handball. Tug-of-war, anyone?
Whatever it takes, in this case, includes selling seats to China. World Games host city Mayor Chen Chu travelled there on Thursday for a four-day visit, intending to sell the 90 percent of events tickets that are unclaimed so far before the curtain goes up on July 16.
2008 was undoubtedly China’s year in the limelight, thanks to the Beijing Olympics. But this year, China’s longtime political and diplomatic rival Taiwan gets the World Games
And it’s not Taiwan’s frenetic, fashionable capital Taipei which will be hosting the event. Instead, the island’s second largest city and one of the world’s busiest ports, Kaohsiung, will be home to the 16-26 July extravaganza.