The Boccia International Sports Federation (BISFed) has awarded the rights to host the 2018 World Championships to Boccia UK. The competition, which is the biggest and most prestigious on the international calendar outside the Paralympic Games, will be hosted at Exhibition Centre Liverpool from August 9 - 19 2018.
Boccia is a Paralympic sport with no Olympic equivalent. It is a target ball sport designed for athletes with impairments affecting all four limbs. Having watched the sport in London 2012, sportswriter Simon Barnes wrote “It’s the heart and soul of the Paralympic Games. Or of all sport. You haven’t seen sport until you’ve seen boccia.”
Following sold out crowds in London 2012 and Rio 2016 the sport continues to grow apace internationally and 192 athletes will travel to Liverpool in 2018 in their quest to become World Champion. A truly international sport, the medals at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games were shared between Europe, Asia and the Americas while more countries in Oceania and Africa are taking part in BISFed sanctioned competitions every year.
The organising committee aims to deliver the best World Championships the sport has seen. Hosted in Exhibition Centre Liverpool, an 8,100m2 venue on the banks of Liverpool’s world heritage waterfront with accommodation on site, the athlete experience will be second to none. Situated in Liverpool city centre, the event aims to attract thousands of spectators to create a memorable atmosphere and introduce people to a fascinating technical and tactical sport they might not have come across before.
John Dowson, Chair of Boccia UK, said: “We are thrilled to be hosting the BISFed World Championships in Liverpool next year. This is the largest Boccia event on the international calendar in terms of athlete numbers and gives an excellent opportunity for innovation in showcasing the sport at a stunning location. We are extremely grateful to UK Sport and the National Lottery for their financial contribution through their Major Events Programme and to the City of Liverpool who will provide an unrivalled experience for both athletes and spectators.”
David Hadfield, President of BISFed, said: “I am very pleased that the BISFed 2018 World Championships will be hosted by Boccia UK in the wonderful city of Liverpool. Boccia is the fastest-growing Paralympic sport and we expect the competition to attract more countries and more athletes than ever to an international boccia event. I am looking forward to seeing an extraordinary demonstration of para sport in a very exciting and innovative setting.”
David Smith MBE, two-time Paralympic Gold medallist and Boccia UK athlete, said: "I am so excited that the BISFed 2018 World Championships will be held in the UK. Performing in front of a home crowd in London 2012 was one of the finest moments of my career. I know the people of Liverpool are sports mad and I really hope they will take Boccia to their hearts to give my team mates and I a huge boost on the road to Tokyo. I hope that by creating the most interactive and entertaining Boccia competition ever we will put Boccia firmly in the public consciousness and inspire the local and national disability community to get involved in the sport.”
Joe Anderson OBE, Mayor of Liverpool, said: “This is fantastic news and a demonstration of Liverpool’s ability to secure and deliver major sporting events. Whether it’s athletics, netball, triathlons, gymnastics, boxing, running and now Boccia, Liverpool has proved itself time and again as the perfect host to showcase a wide range of sports. We take it extremely seriously and have world class venues matched with passionate fans, providing a unique welcome. Sport is in our DNA and we will work hard to bring an enthusiastic audience that will be fair, welcoming and supportive of all athletes and participating nations and showcase Boccia to the world.”
Tim Hollingsworth OBE, CEO of the British Paralympic Association, said: “It is terrific news that Boccia UK will host the BISFed World Championships next year giving British crowds the opportunity to watch Boccia here in the UK. We have a proud tradition of success in Boccia at Paralympic level - this is built on outstanding performances at major championships, such as the Worlds, and I am sure that British athletes will be keen to perform once again in front of home support. The World Championships will also be a major part of the GB team’s preparations for Tokyo 2020 so it will be a good testing ground ahead of the Games.
“I congratulate the team at Boccia UK on all their hard work to win the right to host the Championships. I know they will put on a fantastic event and I look forward to attending next year.”