The World Games have been moved back until 2022 ©IWGA

The Birmingham 2021 World Games have been moved back a year to 2022, it has been confirmed.

Organisers the International World Games Association (IWGA) announced the switch today, with the decision a direct consequence of the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics until next year.

Competition in the American city was due to take place between July 15 and 21 in 2021.

However, Tokyo 2020 has been re-arranged to between July 23 and August 8 of next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving three days which clash.

The IWGA had previously announced that they were "urgently reviewing" the situation and were also considering earlier dates in 2021.

However, they have opted for similar dates in 2022 with the Games in Alabama now scheduled for between July 7 and 17, 2022.

"Keeping to the original dates in July 2021 would have meant excluding many athletes and officials involved in the Olympics, and would have led to a potential reduction in public and media interest," an IWGA statement said today.

"When the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced its decision, the Birmingham Organising Committee (BOC) urgently set about assessing what alternative dates might be viable, particularly as regards venues and accommodation. 

"Meanwhile, the staff of the IWGA were establishing when the vital services provided by key partners, such as Swiss Timing and International Sports Broadcasting, could still be made available.

"It soon became clear that only one 10-day period existed in which venues, accommodation and key partner support could be guaranteed: 7 to 17 July, 2022. 

"The IWGA Member Federations with sports on the programme gave their full support to delaying The World Games, and the joint decision of the IWGA and BOC Boards to adopt these new dates was unanimously approved by the federations in a video conference."

The World Games is a multi-sport event for disciplines not on the Olympic programme, and is held every four years.

There is some crossover with the Olympics, however, with sports such as karate, climbing and softball featuring at both events.

There will now be two major multi-sport events in places called Birmingham in 2022, as that year's Commonwealth Games will take place in the English city of the same name.

No decision on if the Birmingham 2021 name will still be used for The World Games has yet been confirmed, with the Commonwealth Games due to begin just 10 days later on July 27.

Birmingham in Alabama will now host action a year later than scheduled ©Getty Images
Birmingham in Alabama will now host action a year later than scheduled ©Getty Images

"A great deal of detailed work is now required to implement this decision, and further progress reports will be issued in due course," said IWGA President José Perurena, who is currently recovering at home after contracting COVID-19.

"But I am impressed by the flexibility and efficiency of the Birmingham Organising Committee, they have been able, in just two days after the IOC's announcement, to get all the main organisational items in place."

A number of other sporting events have moved or will be moved due to the re-arranged Olympics.

The 2021 World Athletics Championships in Oregon is another high-profile American event which will take place in 2022.

"I am very proud of the capable organising team in Birmingham," said IWGA chief executive Joachim Gossow.

"All organisational main pillars such as venues and accommodation are in place for 2022, and we are able to have exactly the same sports programme as we had planned for 2021."

Nick Sellers, the chief executive of the Organising Committee, added: "I want to thank our entire team and partners across the State of Alabama and internationally for their work and support to set our new dates. 

"While it wasn't an easy decision, it was the right one for our athletes, fans, sponsors and community. 

"We share many key partners of the International Olympic Committee, and this move will ensure that we maintain national and international television coverage as well as keeping several sport competitions that participate in the Tokyo Summer Olympics. 

"The World Games Birmingham will be a special time of reconnection as it will be the first major international multi-sport event on American soil following this global pandemic, and we are fully confident that we will rise to the occasion. 

"Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with our healthcare workers and those impacted by COVID-19 at this time.

"We will prevail, and we will reconnect."