Blind Sports Association World Games get underway

Dr Bakhtawar Kiani from Pakistan has the honour of being the first female visually-impaired Asian at the IBSA World Games 2023. 

LONDON: Around 1,150 athletes from more than 70 countries, including Pakistan, Brazil, China, India, United States and Canada, are attending the World Games which started on Aug 18  and will end on Aug 27, and it is the first time the World Games have been held in the UK.

The University of Birmingham is hosting five of the Games’ 11 sports – judo, blind football, showdown, archery, and chess – across it’s Edgbaston campus, whilst cricket, powerlifting, goalball, tennis, partially-sighted football, and ten pin bowling will take place at venues across the West Midlands.

Dr Bakhtawar Kiani from Pakistan has the honour of being the first female visually-impaired Asian at the IBSA World Games 2023. 

IBSA’s first World Games village will allow competitors to stay, socialise and dine during the tournament. The Athletes’ Village will be based at the University’s student accommodation, just as it was at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Spectators will have opportunity to browse the stands of organisations and companies involved in research or providing services to blind and visually impaired people.

British Blind Sport, the host federation for the 2023 IBSA World Games, is also hosting a “have-a-go” Activation Zone at University of Birmingham’s Chancellor’s Court between 21-25 August, featuring sporting activity taster sessions for blind and partially sighted people of all ages and abilities.

University of Birmingham Vice-Chancellor & Principal Professor Adam Tickell said: “The University of Birmingham is a civic university with a global outlook enjoying deep and wide-ranging research and education links to many countries around the world – notably Brazil, China, India, United States and Canada.

“Sport is truly a unifying force, and I’m delighted to welcome blind and partially sighted athletes from around the world to Birmingham. I wish every competitor a successful and enjoyable Games, and I’m sure that the many spectators joining us will find the Games an exciting sporting experience.”

The World Games occur every four years and are organised by the International Blind Sports Federation. The first games took place in Madrid, Spain 1998, and have since taken place in Quebec (2003), Sao Paulo (2007), Antalya (2011), Seoul (2015), and Fort Wayne in USA (2019).

The group stages of this year’s blind football competitions began before the official Opening Ceremony at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall (18 Aug).

Sallie Barker is the chair at British Blind Sport – the host federation for this year’s IBSA World Games – whose lead sponsor is RNIB. She said: “The University of Birmingham played a key role in Birmingham’s successful hosting of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, so we are honoured to be able to use their top-class sporting facilities for the 2023 IBSA World Games.

“The World Games is about showcasing the talents of those with sight loss, whilst planting the seed in blind and partially sighted people’s minds that sport is accessible to everybody – and we are grateful to the support provided by the University of Birmingham and other regional venues in helping us to achieve this.”

Several events this summer are qualifying competitions for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, for goalball, blind football and judo.

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