By Nick Butler
Birmingham in Alabama, Peruvian capital Lima and Russian city Ufa are the three cities to have submitted an official bid for the 11th edition of the World Games 2021, it has been announced.
It follows the official opening of the bid process by the International World Games Association (IWGA) in January, with all three cities have successfully submitted their bids to the governing body by the deadline of July 31.
First held in 1981, the World Games takes place every four years in the year following the Summer Olympics.
Polish city Wrocław is due to host the next edition in 2017, following Cali in Colombia, which staged the 2013 edition, an event that attracted 500,000 spectators and was watched on television in 120 countries worldwide.
The Games sees 4,500 athletes and officials from 100 countries taking part in more than 30 non-Olympic sports, including dance sport, squash, tug of war, sumo and karate, with athletes competing for gold medals in around 200 disciplines throughout the competition.
IWGA President José Perurena, elected to replace Ron Froehlich earlier this year, feels strongly that the interest confirms his view that the multi-sport event is "gaining more and more interest".
He estimated that the costs of staging the quadrennial event, which takes advantage of existing infrastructure, are more than compensated by the new opportunities that being host of the multi-sport event offers to a city.
"We are looking forward to seeing how the applicant cities present themselves," he said.
The announcement of the three candidates follows a period when various other cities, including Chilean capital Santiago and Spanish city Barcelona, had been muted as potential contenders.
Rustem Khamitov, the leader of Bashkortostan, has already revealed that Ufa's bid is proposing four new sports on the programme: summer biathlon, 3x3 basketball, mini golf and Kurash wrestling.
Peru's bid will attempt to follow the 2019 Pan American Games, while Birmingham will be seeking to bring the Games back to North America for the first time since the inaugural edition in 1981, held in Santa Clara, California.
The IWGA Evaluation Committee will now analyse the bids and, after going through the documents submitted by each, the Committee will announce a short list of candidate host cities and visit those potential hosts to conduct on-site evaluation.
The process will conclude with the selection of those Candidate Cities to be invited for a final presentation to the IWGA Board in Lausanne.
A final decision will be made following these presentations in January, before the contract with the future host city is ratified and signed at the 2015 IWGA Annual General Meeting.