The IBSA World Games 2023 have come to a close
Posted: Wed, 30 Aug 2023 15:03
More than 1,150 athletes with sight loss from across 63 countries have competed across 10 sports at the International Blind Sport Federation (IBSA) World Games at the University of Birmingham and other neighbouring venues between 14-27 August.
Sports featured included football, goalball, judo, archery, cricket, tennis, powerlifting, showdown and chess – all of which were able to happen thanks to a 400-strong army of volunteers and support staff.
Following the closing ceremony, organisers are now finalising plans so that the sporting and social impact of the IBSA World Games gathers momentum in the months and years ahead.
The ceremony included a discussion amongst key Games stakeholders about the long-term sporting legacy for blind and partially sighted people, before Birmingham's Poet Laureate, Jasmine Cardosi, performed a poem dedicated to the World Games, called "A gift from Birmingham to all participating nations in the Games."
Sallie Barker MBE is the Chair at British Blind Sport, which is the host federation for the 2023 IBSA World Games, and spoke of her pride of hosting a memorable event for blind and partially sighted athletes.
Speaking at the World Games closing ceremony, she said: "While this ceremony may mark the closing of the IBSA World Games, this is just the beginning of the start of an exciting new future for blind and partially sighted people in the UK.
"There are two million blind and partially sighted people in the UK and we want these Games to be the catalyst to enable the sector to access pathways into sport.
"We wanted to bring the World Games to Birmingham to demonstrate to blind and partially sighted people that there are no barriers to participating in activity or sport, and to also send a meaningful message to wider society that those with sight loss should have equal opportunities.
"Each and every athlete should be proud of what they have achieved at this year's World Games, and I am very much looking forward to talking about the legacy that we have built for those with sight loss in the UK at the next World Games in four years' time."
The 2023 IBSA World Games' lead sponsor is the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
Matt Stringer, Chief Executive of RNIB, said: "I'm delighted that RNIB played its part in the IBSA World Games as lead sponsor. It was a fantastic event which is a real watershed moment for the two million people in the UK who are blind or partially sighted.
"There are many sports that people wrongly think blind and partially sighted people are unable to participate in. The IBSA World Games challenged these misconceptions, providing spectators with the opportunity to watch blind or partially sighted people compete sports that they didn't think were possible."
Simon Bray, Director of Campus Services at the University of Birmingham, comments: "We were so pleased to be a host venue for five of the sports, and to provide the Athletes' Village for the Games. It has been a pleasure and privilege to meet, support, and be inspired by such brilliant sportspeople and sports lovers from across the globe."
Cllr Sharon Thompson, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: "It's been an honour for Birmingham to be the first city in the UK to host an International Blind Sport Federation World Games.
"I would like to thank all athletes, volunteers, officials and Games partners for a truly remarkable and memorable Games.
"These Games have not only showcased blind and partially sighted athletes' abilities but will also inspire blind and partially sighted people across our city to take advantages of the pathways into sport and volunteering opportunities."
The unique multi-sport event was coordinated by event management company MLS Contracts Ltd, with British Blind Sport - the national disability sport organisation representing blind and partially sighted people in sport across Great Britain – as the World Games' host federation.