The World Games return to the United States for the first time in 41 years ©World Games 2022

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach is expected to be present when the World Games are opened in Birmingham, Alabama tomorrow (Thursday).

Originally scheduled for 2021 but postponed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the multi-sport event is set to see 3,500 athletes compete across 34 sports.

Over the course of ten days of competition, 223 gold medals are set to be contested with the event returning to the United States for the first time since the inaugural Games in Santa Clara back in 1981.

Belgian skater Bart Swings is hoping for a unique double.

Swings took Olympic speed skating gold in the mass start at Beijing 2022 back in February and is set to compete in inline skating, a sport in which he has already won double World Games gold at both Cali 2013 and Wroclaw five years ago.

In karate, Spain's Sandra Sanchez won Olympic gold in kata in Tokyo last summer and Japan’s Ryo Kiyuna delighted home fans with gold in the men's event.

Belgium's speed skater Bart Swings could win World Games gold to go with his Olympic gold medal from Beijing 2022  ©Getty Images
Belgium's speed skater Bart Swings could win World Games gold to go with his Olympic gold medal from Beijing 2022 ©Getty Images

The women’s Kumite competition is set to feature Bulgaria’s 55 kilograms gold medallist Ivet Goranova, 61kg champion Jovana Prekovic of Serbia and Egyptian Feryal Abdulaziz, a champion in the +61kg category in Tokyo.

The men’s competition should also have a sprinkling of Olympic stardust with 67kg Kumite champion Steven DaCosta of France, Iran’s world and Olympic +84kg champion Sajad Ganjzadeh, and Italy’s Luigi Busa, who won the men's 75kg, all expected to compete.

Meanwhile in powerlifting, Fukushima Yukako of Japan anticipates her sixth World Games appearance in the lightweight category.

She took silver in Wroclaw but has never won gold at the World Games.

Israel’s newly crowned European rhythmic gymnastics champion Daria Atamanov is also expected to feature.

Gymnastic competitions include acrobatics, aerobics, parkour, rhythmic, trampoline, and tumbling.

Team sports including men’s lacrosse are set to feature for the first time.

A team from the Iroquois nation where the sport has its origins has been invited to compete.

They are the first team drawn from an Indigenous nation to compete at the World Games.

A spectacular Opening Ceremony has been planned for the Protective stadium tomorrow.

This will feature the arrival of an American flag which has been carried from Washington DC across the United States by military veterans for the last 44 days.

The Games are set to be streamed on the IOC's content platform