United World Games 2020 are cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

Dear participants and friends,
Dear UWG family,

it is with a heavy heart that we must turn to you today to announce that the United World Games 2020 will not take place.

It pains us more than you can imagine that for the first time since 2005 a year will pass with no UWG. The decision to cancel the event was all but an easy one. We have considered and thought through every possible scenario – from postponing the Games to limiting their size and format – and left no stone unturned over the last couple of days trying to come up with a solution to be able to make our festival of sports, friendship and cultural exchange possible in this year 2020, which is such a difficult and challenging one for the whole world.

In light of the current global health situation, the developments of the last days and weeks and the rightly drastic and extensive measures taken surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and its containment however we were left with no other choice and had to concede that there is only one possible conclusion. It would be grossly negligent and careless not to react and adapt to the current situation, keep planning into uncertainty and insist on UWG 2020 to go ahead irrespective of the acute and urgent health and safety concerns.

We are in continued contact with the responsible authorities and experts and therefore well aware of the severity of the situation. The global community faces an enormous challenge and we are all confronted with incisive changes and constraints in our daily lives. It is to be expected that governmental measures will impact public life greatly over the coming weeks and months. These measures will affect and extend over all areas of society, yet especially the travel industry, tourism and event administration. An international sports event with thousands of people from more than 30 different nations is therefore irresponsible and unjustifiable under the current circumstances. The severe lack of plannability and predictability, which leads to a significant economic risk for everyone involved, as well as the current measures taken by the authorities, but above all the health considerations and concerns for our participants have forced us to make this decision.

Health is the greatest good that we possess and the health of our participants and their families, of our crew, our referees, our bus drivers etc. but also the wellbeing of the local, national and international population will always have priority without a shadow of doubt. We must take responsibility for our participants and partners, which is why we fully support all decrees and measures of the Austrian government. We will do our part for the overcoming of the Corona crisis and have to act in line with what is best for the global community.

We all carry responsibility for our fellow men, never more so than right now, and each and all must do their part to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. Please follow all measures and calls of the respective national governments so that the pandemic can be contained and controlled. At the moment we are doing our best to help where we can, for example in offering the field beds from our UWG Camp to the city of Klagenfurt for a potentially needed emergency center.

As an Organizing Team we have been working tirelessly on the preparations for UWG 2020 since July 2019 and we have put a lot of time, energy and heart into the planning, yet we are aware of the fact that also countless teams that have already registered for the event and their coaches, parents, youth coordinators, players, teachers and staff have put a lot of time and hard work into preparing their participation and so we’d like to apologize wholeheartedly to you and ask you for your understanding. We are devastated and very sorry that we are forced to make this decision. We are announcing the cancellation of the event this early to also give all teams the chance to react and change their arrangements, cancel flights or other travels and to keep the damage for our participants at an absolute minimum. Needless to say we will contact all teams that have already made payments to us as soon as we can. As we are currently all working from our homes, please write us an email instead of calling our hotline if you have any questions. We will do our best to get back to you quickly.

The fact that we have never before had as many registered participants at this point (2.000 persons more than in March 2019), that preparations were going extraordinarily well and that the cooperations with our esteemed partners were strong and long-standing, makes the necessary cancellation of the UWG 2020 even more painful, yet it also fills us with pride and courage.

Of course we will do everything within our power to make sure that UWG will have a comeback in 2021. As the extent and the length of the pandemic and its impact on policymaking, economy and society as a whole can not be foreseen at this point, we can however not make any guarantees or promises. UWG is a non-profit organization and as we are subject to economic realities as much as any organization, the loss of subsidies as well as of event revenue means that we will have to shut down and abandon operation in the coming weeks.

We hope that we can reactivate the project UWG for 2021 yet of course we are well aware of the challenges and hurdles we face. A new edition of the Games in 2021 is only feasible if all our partners and sponsors will support us in this hard situation as well as in the future.

We would like to express our unending gratitude to each and everyone of you, our dear participants. Thank You for having been part of the journey, part of our global movement and part of the UWG family, we hope that we can count on you in the future. Thank You for your understanding, stay safe and take care of yourselves and your loved ones!

Until soon,
Your UWG Team