The World Games 2022 are now less than 100 days away. Here’s what you need to know:
What are The World Games?
The World Games are an international multi-sport event held quadrennially in the year following each summer edition of the Olympic Games. Staged over 11 days, The World Games represent the pinnacle of competition for 3,600 elite athletes from more than 100 countries in 34 of the world’s fastest growing sports. At each Games, in excess of 600 medals are awarded to competing athletes across more than 200 events.
Following a one-year postponement due to COVID-19, The World Games 2022 will be held July 7-17 in Birmingham, Alabama, with competition taking place in 25+ venues around the greater metropolitan area. It will be the first edition of the event hosted in the United States since the inaugural Games in Santa Clara, California, in 1981, and the 11th edition of the Games overall.
The World Games are led by the International World Games Association, a non-profit organization that is composed of 37 International Federations and recognized by the International Olympic Committee.
Lacrosse at The World Games
Lacrosse made its The World Games debut in Wrocław, Poland, in 2017 following the International World Games Association’s acceptance of World Lacrosse as a member in 2013.
In 2017, women’s field lacrosse was the selected discipline, with the United States, Canada and Australia earning the historic first medals.
This year, both men’s and women’s tournaments will take place in Birmingham, and will be contested in the new Sixes discipline.
Sixes’ Global Debut
TWG2022 will feature World Lacrosse Sixes, a shorter, faster-paced version of the sport akin to rugby sevens that was launched in 2020.
The six-a-side version of the sport is played on a 70×36-meter outdoor field and involves 8-minute, running-time quarters. In comparison, traditional field lacrosse includes 10 players per side with 15-minute quarters utilizing a 110×60-meter field.
The World Games will historically mark the first time Sixes is being played on a truly global stage, with participating teams spanning four continents.
The men’s preliminary round will commence Friday, July 8 – the day following the Opening Ceremony – with semifinals on Monday, July 11 and medal games on the evening of July 12.
The women’s preliminary round will begin Tuesday, July 12, on the morning of the men’s medal games. Following three days of round-robin competition, the semifinals are set for Friday, July 15, and medal games on the evening of July 16 prior to Sunday’s Closing Ceremony.
The men’s and the women’s tournaments at TWG2022 will feature eight teams and a total of 18 games each. The teams are initially split into two groups of four based on seeding for round-robin preliminary play over a three-day period. At the end of the preliminary round, the top two teams from each group advance to the semifinals on day four (the bottom four teams play in placement games), with medal games to follow on the fifth and final day of competition for each gender.
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Rosters that have been announced are linked above.
The men’s and women’s tournaments have seven overlapping teams: Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Haudenosaunee, Israel, Japan and the United States. The additional men’s team is Germany, while the Czech Republic features in the women’s tournament.
The Great Britain conglomerate is new to international lacrosse, having been formed in 2021 to manage teams participating in international multi-sport events. British Lacrosse combines three powerhouse lacrosse countries – England, Scotland and Wales – all among the top 15 in the world for both men and women.
When lacrosse teams were initially invited to The World Games in 2019, the selection criteria for both genders were based on the final results of the most recent world championships (women-2017, men-2018), with the top eight eligible teams earning a spot. On the men’s side, though they are the reigning world bronze medalist, the Haudenosaunee Nationals (formerly Iroquois Nationals) were not selected because they did not meet the IWGA’s eligibility criteria to compete. However, following a collaborative process between the IWGA, Birmingham 2022 Organizing Committee and World Lacrosse, the Haudenosaunee Nationals were deemed eligible in 2020, and Ireland (the lowest-ranking team in the men’s competition) graciously offered its position to the Haudenosaunee men.
Following the postponement of The World Games due to COVID-19 in 2020, the women’s selection criteria was amended to consider results of the 2019 continental qualifiers. Under the revised criteria, the top five eligible teams from the 2017 World Lacrosse Women’s Championship were selected, along with the top finisher not already selected from each of the three continental qualifiers. That resulted in the Haudenosaunee women also gaining the right to compete (over New Zealand, as originally selected).
The Haudenosaunee are the originators of the game of lacrosse, which is America’s oldest sport.
Lacrosse is one of four TWG2022 sports being contested at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, joining racquetball, squash and tug of war.
Lacrosse will be held at PNC Field, the 6,500-seat home to UAB’s NCAA Division I soccer teams that opened in 2015.
World Lacrosse is aiming to achieve inclusion in the Olympics, and participation by both men’s and women’s teams in The World Games represents another step in that journey. World Lacrosse Sixes is currently among the contenders of sports to be added to the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games program, set to be decided in 2023.
Many sports have featured in The World Games prior to Olympic inclusion, including beach volleyball, rugby, sport climbing, taekwondo and triathlon.
How to Watch
Tickets remain for the lacrosse competition in Birmingham, starting at $20+fees for two-game passes via TWG2022.com. Two, two-game sessions are available per day. Preliminary-round sessions for both men and women start at 10:30 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. local time. Semifinals for both are at 1:45 p.m., with medal games starting at 7 p.m. Full men’s and women’s tournament passes are also available, covering all nine sessions (18 games) for each.
In addition, daily highlights from TWG2022 will air on CBS Sports, with semifinals and medal games available on the Olympic Channel.