History & Vision

Get to know our values and take a look at our history!

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Our history

In June 2023, the United World Games celebrated their 19th anniversary, reason enough to take a look at the past and the eventful history of our Games.

We look back with joy and pride on 19 years of UWG, almost two decades full of exciting sporting competitions, steadily growing popularity and interest, countless unique stories and unforgettable experiences.

We are overjoyed and grateful that we were able to make this breathtaking journey together with you, our great participants, and can hardly wait for the start of the next UWG. Our community is growing from year to year, we still have a lot of plans and want to continue to build bridges with you and celebrate the positive and unifying power of sport in the spirit of respect and fair play.

How it all began…

In 2004, a team of young sports fans decided to internationalize a small regional sporting event that was only intended for Austrians. It took a year of organizing and, above all, phone calls, as teams from all over Europe had to be informed and invited. The concept of youth sports games with an Olympic flair and a great fun factor, but above all with plenty of opportunities to meet each other away from the sports facilities, seemed convincing from the outset.

The success story begins

Already at the first edition in 2005, 500 young people from 12 nations took part in Klagenfurt and spent four wonderful days together. The people of Klagenfurt were amazed when the cheerful UWG athletes transformed the town square into an open-air disco at the Players Party. Everyone agreed that it was a successful party with lots of new friends that they would like to attend again!

The Americans are coming

No sooner said than done: 90% of all participants from 2005 returned for the UWG 2006 and, fortunately, many new faces were added. A total of over 2,500 athletes from 17 nations (including the USA for the first time) took part. The town square as the center of the games had become too small in the meantime, and so Klagenfurt's exhibition centre had to serve as Players Town. Once again, the large international UWG family spent wonderful and action-packed days together.

Two locations

Due to the great interest and even greater demand, the United World Games 2007 took place for the first time in two Austrian cities - Klagenfurt and Vienna. While basketball, volleyball and soccer were still played in Klagenfurt, five more sports were added in Vienna: baseball, bowling, swimming, tennis and wrestling. A total of over 5,000 young people took part in the games in 2007.

Under the sign of the EURO

In 2008, the focus was once again on Klagenfurt, as the United World Games took place from June 19 to 22 during the EURO 2008. After the three preliminary round matches in the new Wörthersee Stadium in Klagenfurt, the UWG participants in particular created an international flair in Carinthia's capital. It was a really good time, as the young athletes were able to experience both major events up close.

Doping? No thanks! Handball? Yes please!

The United World Games 2009 were all about doping prevention. Even if most of our participants are not directly affected by the doping problem, prevention cannot begin early enough. With informative and age-appropriate brochures from UNESCO, each participating team was made aware of the dangers of doping. Handball was introduced as the fourth official sport in 2009 and the first handball tournament as part of the Games was an immediate success.

New record number of participants - new nations

Even in the run-up to the Games, there were all the signs that 2010 would bring a new record number of participants. And indeed, this time more people came to the beautiful Wörthersee than ever before. As if that wasn't enough, young people from India were among the thousands of athletes for the first time. Another very special highlight in 2010 were the official UWG cheerleaders who did not just rock our venues but also broke one or two hearts. The new venue for the matches - the EURO Stadium in Klagenfurt - also proved its worth straight away.

Even more attractive sports offering with fistball and tennis

In 2011, there were once again many new things and surprises in store for the many participants. For the first time in the history of the Games, a major international fistball tournament was also held. Fistball is a sport that is played in many countries but is still unknown to many. In total, more than 4,000 athletes took part in the United World Games 2011.

Welcome Palestine, Canada and Indonesia

Over 4,500 participants took part in the United World Games 2012 (June 21st-24th). With Indonesia, Canada and Palestine, three new nations were once again at the start. A special highlight was the appearance of "Heroes of Tomorrow" winner Conny Mooswalder at the grand opening ceremony.

Two new sports, the UWG family continues to grow

And another new record - as in every year so far, the United World Games continued to grow in 2013, with almost 6,000 participants taking part in the 9th edition of the games. With rugby and field hockey, not only were two new sports introduced that really hit the spot and enriched the UWG 2013 with great tournaments, but the supporting program was also expanded, e.g. with the gala evening for parents, partners and sponsors of the games.

The games are getting bigger and more professional

The organizers were once again able to set a record number of participants at the UWG 2014, when the 6,000 mark was broken. Once again, some new nations were welcomed to the games, such as South Africa and Luxembourg. There were innovations and improvements both at the various tournaments and away from the sports facilities. Tournament management, side events and supporting events such as the grand opening ceremony were optimized and expanded.

More sports, more supporting program, more countries, more UWG

In addition to the continuously increasing number of participants, the range of sports on offer at the 11th edition of the United World Games was also expanded once again. With orienteering and swimming, the number of sports was increased to no less than 9. Both competitions were a resounding success at their premiere, enjoyed great popularity and brought new members to the UWG family from Russia, Pakistan, Mexico and Portugal, among others. The supporting program for the games also continued to grow, with the introduction of scouting clinics with US coaches in basketball and the Coaching Exchange Workshop in soccer. 6,500 participants once again celebrated a festival of sport and togetherness on the shores of the Wörthersee.

Kenya, Brazil and Mongolia arrive, athletics are introduced

In 2016, the United World Games broke the 8,000 participant mark for the first time. For the first time, soccer teams from Brazil, the U16 national basketball teams from Mongolia and teams from Kenya were also welcomed to the games. In addition to the 9 existing sports, athletics competitions were also held for the first time with hundreds of participants.

Hello Chile, Hello Denmark, Hello Morocco, Hello Floorball

Over 9,000 participants from 35 nations took part in the 13th edition of the games in Klagenfurt. Teams from Chile, Denmark and Morocco traveled to Carinthia for the first time. A highlight of the UWG 2017 was the UWG fan zone in Klagenfurt's city center right next to the Lindwurm (Klagenfurt's landmark). A mobile open-air basketball court was set up there, where numerous games of the basketball tournament took place. Another novelty at the Games was floorball, which was introduced as the eleventh UWG sport and for which a separate center was created in Villach.

1 new nation, 2 new sports and 10,000 participants

For the first time in the history of the United World Games, several delegations from China took part in the event. No fewer than 250 Chinese athletes competed against the rest of the world. With ice hockey and curling, the first winter sports were also successfully introduced at the UWG, and a long-awaited goal was achieved: 10,000 participants!

15 years of UWG: Anniversary games a complete success

To mark the 15th anniversary, the number of sports was appropriately increased to 15, and the debutants Ultimate Frisbee, beach volleyball and bouldering were extremely well received and brought great locations with them, such as the newly opened climbing hall of Naturfreunde Kärnten or the beach volleyball courts of USI Klagenfurt. Colombia, Estonia and Moldova joined the already impressive list of participating nations and celebrated the 15th anniversary of the United World Games with more than 30 other countries. A more than successful celebration true to the event motto "One world - a thousand friends".

Cancellation of the United World Games

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UWG 2020 unfortunately had to be canceled. In March, it became clear that it would be impossible to hold the event this year. However, thanks to the support of partners, sponsors and the entire UWG family, it was possible to ensure the continuation of the event. In 2021, the organizers want to bring young people from all over the world together again at the UWG in Klagenfurt.

Cancellation of the United World Games

Unfortunately, the UWG also had to be canceled in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite various event plans, it was not possible to guarantee a safe event for the 2nd year in a row. However, there are increasing signs that the UWG will return next year.

Comeback: perseverance pays off

After a 2-year break, the United World Games could finally take place again in 2022. 6,000 participants from 25 nations celebrated the big comeback of youth sport. Smiling faces, new friendships, top-class and fair sporting competitions and an impressive opening ceremony will remain in everyone's memory for a long time to come. 3 new nations were welcomed to Klagenfurt: Israel, Denmark & Liechtenstein.

More sport, more action, more internationality

The United World Games are once again a fixed part of the tournament calendar for countless teams worldwide and another sport celebrated its UWG premiere: ball field hockey
8,000 participants from 30 nations took part in 2023 and not only experienced spectacular duels in ball hockey, but were also able to compete with teams from Bulgaria and Scotland for the first time.

Our vision

– UWG Vision Statement

The UNITED WORLD GAMES are more than just a tournament. The games are among the most popular youth sporting events in Europe and attract thousands of young people from all over the world every year. Sport unites, even if the skin color, origin and religion of our participants are different.

The UWG is a major annual sporting event under the patronage of UNESCO, which has grown continuously and improved in quality since its first edition in 2005. In the meantime, however, the United World Games have also established themselves as a global movement and community, symbolizing the many positive values and dimensions of sport: respect, fair play, responsibility, togetherness, team spirit, exchange and friendship, exercise and health.


International friendship and cultural exchange through sport are at the heart of the UWG. All our participants – whether former or future, whether players, coaches, volunteers or referees – are part of the UWG family.

We bring young people from all over the world together through their shared passion for sport. The unique atmosphere of the UWG provides unforgettable moments for our participants, while at the same time the games offer a platform to get to know people from different parts of the world, exchange ideas and network, make contacts and form friendships. The joy of sport and the open interaction of cultures are at the heart of the games.

In addition to the sporting competitions, an extensive supporting program offers all participants lots of fun and entertainment. The combination of great and modern venues such as the EURO 2008 Arena (also called Wörthersee Stadium, as “Players Town” the center of the games), the fantastic location in the heart of Carinthia and its beautiful lake landscape and the international character of the major event leads to a unique flair and offers our participants the perfect mix of sport, exchange and vacation.

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