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Japan’s Data + Sports

Contribution to the promotion of the World Games through Japan World Games Association

June 2, 2023

Since 1991, the SSF has been intensively supporting the World Games, one of the major international sporting competitions, through its role as the secretariat office of the Japan World Games Association (JWGA).

The World Games

The World Games is a sporting competition for top international athletes organized by the IWGA. The Games are held in the year following the Summer Olympic Games and are supported by the IOC.

Top athletes selected by the International Federations (IF) compete in the respective events that are not chosen for the Olympic Games. This is to stimulate public and media interest in “non-Olympic sports”, as the Olympic Games have become so huge that the inclusion of new sports is limited.

Japan hosted the 6th World Games in 2001, which will be discussed later. The latest Games, the 11th World Games, took place in Birmingham, USA in 2022. The program included 34 sports, including Wheelchair Rugby, which is categorized as a “parasport” in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, with a total of 223 medal events, and 3,457 athletes from 99 countries and regions participated. *1



The World Games has a key feature that distinguishes it from the Olympic Games: it is held at a significantly lower cost. In order to minimize the burden on the host city, only sports that can be played at existing facilities in the region will be adopted as Games’ events. In addition, athletes use local hotels/dormitories and other existing facilities.

Due to this principle of not over-burdening the host city, the World Games is attracting attention as a new type of major international sporting event.

Japan World Games Association (JWGA)

The JWGA started as the Japan World Games Commission in 1985, and later was reorganized into the JWGA in 1999. The organization was established by many National Federations (NF) in Japan, which were related to the World Games.

The JWGA aims to promote the World Games competitions, increase the number of sports enthusiasts, improve public health nationwide, and achieve world peace through sport. Since the establishment of JWGA, SSF has been responsible for management and serving as a secretariat.

SSF’s Support for the World Games



1) MOU with IWGA

During the 2022 Birmingham Games, an MOU was signed between Kazutoshi Watanabe, the President of the SSF as well as the vice President of JWGA, and José Perurena López, the President of IWGA, on 12 July 2022. The purpose of the MOU is to cooperate with each other in promoting the World Games and world peace through the World Games. This MOU could be said to embody Japan's longstanding support and promotion of the World Games over the decades through the IWGA; as López mentions, “signing this MOU is to prove that the cooperative relationship between the two organizations has moved to the next level”.

JWGA is a role model in respect of the cooperation between IWGA and national sports organisations.

José Perurena López, the President of IWGA

2) Contribution to the World Games

Our cooperation can be traced back to 1985, six years before the establishment of SSF, when Ryoichi Sasakawa, the founder of the Nippon Foundation (SSF’s parent foundation), decided to sponsor the second World Games in London. His slogans, including “Sport is a universal language”, were engraved on the medals of the Games as a show of appreciation for his great contribution through the IWGA. *2

In August 2001, the 6th World Games was held in Akita, Japan. It marked the first World Games hosted in Asia, and 2,193 athletes from 93 countries and regions participated. *3

SSF fully supported the JWGA from the bidding process to the conclusion of the event, which was a great success. When Akita was selected as the next host city, SSF conducted preliminary research on the event with local municipalities nationwide. SSF also organized a nation-wide event called “the World Games Fair" to promote the event throughout the country. As a result, the event attracted approximately 300,000 spectators.

In addition to the Games, a huge cultural exchange event between residents and international athletes was organized for the first time in the World Games’ history. Due to the high praise that the event received, subsequent host cities are now required to organize such events, allowing both residents and international athletes during the Games. This can be said to be Japan’s “legacy” to date.

In terms of financial “legacy”, the surplus of 200 million yen from the Games was allocated as an endowment to promote sports and physical activities in Akita Prefecture.


SSF mainly commits to promoting Sport for All, but also serves as the secretariat office of the domestic organizing body for one of the major international sporting competitions. Several TAFISA (The Association For International Sport for All Association, of which SSF has been a member) member organizations, such as the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF), are also members of the IWGA. SSF believes that the collaboration and partnership with those organizations to promote Sport for All by sharing knowledge and global networks will be crucial for further development.



*1: Official report of the 11th World Games in Birmingham

*2: Article from the World Games Website

*3: Official report of the 6th World Games in Akita

Additional resources

1) The World Games Website: “MoUs signed with four National Sports Entities”

2) SSF 20th anniversary magazine

3) SSF 30th anniversary magazine

4) “Field Investigation Report on the 11th World Games”, Japan Sport Council

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