Under the official patronage of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Busan will host the 4th TAFISA(Trim & Fitness International Sport for all Association) World Sport for All Games for one week from September 26, 2008. About 10,000 players and guests from over 100 countries are expected to come to the international event, called the World Sports Cultural Festival.
"The TAFISA World Sport for All Games to be held once every four years and will be a vibrant and entertaining event, bridging the gap between traditional games and popular sports," Hur Nam-sik, mayor of Busan, said.
The mayor believes that to develop the Busan Games into a global sports festival, Busan has been exerting allout efforts. "For instance, we will introduce 'e-sports' and 'x-sports' to the Games for the first time in world to make it a global festival comprising existing traditional sports and future sports," he said.
"Along with this, we have succeeded in attracting official patronage from the IOC, receiving great interest and support from the international sporting society," he said.
"At the same time, we will hold a 'walkathon event' this time, where more than 10 million people in 100 countries are set to take part. Through the international event, we plan to raise a great amount of funds to help hunger-stricken people in Asia and Africa," said the Busan mayor.
Comparison with the Olympics
The TAFISA to be held in Busan next year will be the biggest of its kind, dwarfing the event held in Hanover, Germany, in 2004 and even the 2002 Busan Asian Games in terms of scale.
Over 10,000 athletes and guests from 100 countries are expected to participate in the 4th Games, but the 3rd Games and the Asian Games attracted just 45 and 40 countries respectively.
Meanwhile, the 4th Busan World Sport for All Games will be around half of the 2004 Sydney Summer Olympics in terms of scale. The Olympics are designed for fair competition and new records of players, whereas the Sports For All Games are a world sports cultural festival where participating players and audiences enjoy the traditional sports of each country, understand various culture and share love for humanity.
Widely different from Asian Games and Olympics, which require astronomical finance, huge manpower and sports facilities, the Games can use existing facilities and prepare sports events closely linked with life. Under the subject of "harmony of tradition and future for world peace and prosperity," the World Sport for All Games will adopt not only existing traditional sports but also 'e-sports' and 'x-sports,' new sports that young generation favor, as well as programs in which general citizens can participate, Hur said.
"To be exact, a total of 26 sports games in the three sectors - traditional life sports, new sports and special programs - will be held in the nation's largest port city," he said. Traditional sports include archery, gymnastics, Muay Thai, samba, tango, wu shu, and yoga. Among the life sports are bowling, futsal, gateball, rope-jumping, and squash.
New sports means e-sports like StarCraft competitions and x-sports such as MTB. Special programs include a world B-Boy competition, a fin swimming competition and an in-line race. "The life sports in which people from all walks of life can participate are emerging as ways to keep healthy and becoming an important foundation for elite sports such as the Olympics," said the Busan mayor.
For successful hosting of the 4th Busan World Sport for All Games, meanwhile, Busan has been making extensive preparations. It has already sent invitations for the Busan Games to all TAFISA member countries and dispatched a PR team to the 20th TAFISA general meeting held in Argentina on Sept. 26, encouraging the member countries to actively attend the Busan sports festival. Busan has already finalized preparations for stadiums necessary for the Games, hotels and lodging houses for participating players and transportation measures, while sending newsletters introducing the Busan Games written in both Korean and English to domestic and foreign social and sports organizations.
"To present all participants in the Busan Games with unforgettable memories and impressions, Busan is going all-out to make thorough preparations," said the mayor.
Cooperation with international organizations
The TAFISA, consisting of life sports organizations from 110 countries, was established to enhance each country's recognition of sport and develop social and cultural sports. A number of international organizations, including the WHO, UNESCO, UN, and the Olympic Committee of each country, are actively participating in TAFISA, seeking close cooperation. In particular, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to officially sponsor the 2008 Busan Games for the first time, recognizing it as an international sports event in the Olympics spirit.
"For success of the 4th Busan World Sport for All Games, Busan will also make doubled efforts to attract wide support from more international organizations under the close cooperation with TAFISA," said Hur.
Since 1981, the IOC has been officially sponsoring world events for 30 non-Olympics sports items. However, the IOC has decided to officially sponsor the 2008 Busan Games for the first time. It means that IOC has officially recognized the 2008 Busan Games as a main global event implementing the Olympics spirit and promoting the importance of social sports.
With the IOC's decision, the Organizing Committee of the 4th Busan World Sport for All Games has been entrusted with the right to officially herald the 2008 Busan Games to the IOC member countries.
"Under the official sponsorship of the IOC, Busan City has also attained a power engine to maximize its PR effects in international sports events and enhance the city's brand image in global society," said Hur. Along with this, Busan will introduce IOC sports education and culture forum during the 2008 Busan Games, where more than 50 IOC committee members and dignitaries from the world's sports circles are likely to attend. As the IOC sports education and culture forum is a very important event like the IOC general meeting, Korea will have a good chance to promote its diplomatic power in global society, he said.
"On the occasion of its hosting of the Sport for All Games competition, Busan City plans to expand various sports infrastructure to help citizens enjoy more life sports easily and conveniently," said Hur.
"We plan to create a climate where life sports are the foundation for elite sports and citizens can enjoy a healthy and pleasant life through these life sports," he said.
Moreover, Busan can change its image to a city of sports, education and culture by hosting the IOC sports, education and culture forum during the 2008 games, the Busan mayor said. "Busan has already held giant international events like the Asian Games, World Cup and APEC Summit. Based on excellent ability and know-how accumulated while holding such giant global events, Busan will hold the 4th Busan World Sport for All Games successfully in 2008," he said.
Busan will introduce exotic and new sports items to the 2008 Busan Games that citizens have never seen before in the Olympics or elsewhere, to make the event the world's largest sports culture festival, Hur said.
"We will make best efforts to hold the 2008 Busan Games successfully by strengthening our PR activities for the event in foreign countries and attracting full supports from both domestic and foreign citizens and organizations," he added.