• The Outdoor Tug-of-War World Championship will be held in Fadura between 16 and 19 September, for teams and for nations.
  • This is the first tug of war world championship in pandemic and thus recovers the international activity in this sport. It will bring together 16 national teams and 580 athletes.
  • Basque Country will participate as a national team in 8 categories. 4 Basque clubs will take part in the world competition in the clubs competition, forming a total of 18 teams, which will have pulls in 7 different categories.
  • The Basque Country is a full member of the International Tug-of-War Federation (TWIF) since 2015. This year, TWIF celebrates its 60th anniversary.

This morning the Outdoor Tug-of-War World Championship has been presented in Fadura, which will be held in these facilities from 16 to 19 September.

Taking part in this presentation: Bingen Zupiria, Minister for Culture and Linguistic Policy of the Basque Government; Lorea Bilbao, Councillor for the Basque Language, Culture and Sport of the Provincial Council of Bizkaia; Amaia Agirre, Mayor of Getxo; Igor Duñabetia, President of the Basque Federation of Herri Kirolak; and Maaike Hornsta, General Secretary of the TWIF.

World Tug-of-War Championship in Getxo

Getxo, and more specifically the facilities of the Fadura Sports Park, will host the Tug-of-War World Championship next week.

This is the Tug of War World Championship of in which the International Associations members of the TWIF and clubs of those countries will participate.

16 national teams will meet in Fadura and there will be just over 580 athletes and nearly 50 international judges and officials who will control the competition.

Competitions will be held in a total of 8 categories, according to weighing and sexes, in the world championship for nations and for clubs.

The Championship, planned for September 2020 and postponed due to the pandemic, will host the clubs world championship during the first two days and the national teams world championship on 18 and 19.

The context in which we are living has greatly complicated the organization and attendance of the participants to this world championship. This is why on this occasion there are 16 national teams present, including England, South Africa, Germany, China Taipei, the Netherlands, Israel, Switzerland and the Basque Country itself. 
As regards clubs, 39 clubs will be present, forming a total of 73 teams.

Outdoor Tug-of-War World Championship

The call for the World Championship corresponds to the Tug of War International Federation – TWIF, which at its Malmo 2015 Congress designated Getxo’s candidacy for the organization of the world championship.

The TWIF, Tug of War International Federation, was formed in 1960. Therefore, this year of the Getxo championship, it celebrates its 60th anniversary. Since 2002 it is a Federation recognized by the IOC.

It is made up of 73 national federations of the 5 continents. The TWIF is led by an executive body, currently made up of members from South Africa, USA, Ireland, England and Netherlands.

The local organization of the Getxo Tug-of-War World Championship corresponds to the participating Tug-of-War clubs together with three entities that have been promoting tug-of-war in Euskadi (Basque Country) for many years: the Basque Games and Sports Federations, that of Bizkaia and Getxo Herri Kirol Taldea. To carry out the event they have had the support at all time of the Basque Government, the Provincial Council of Bizkaia, the Council of Getxo, Labour Kutxa and the Union of Basque Sports Federations.

The designation of Getxo as the venue of a world championship is the culmination of an arduous and tenacious effort from the tug-of-war world in Euskal Herria (Basque Country) to achieve the officiality of the team to compete with its own identity in the international context.

This was emphasized by Bingen Zubirua in his intervention: “Sokatira Mundiala is special. It has been a real challenge to manage to be the venue for a world championship, within the current healthcare context, but we are showing the world that we are capable. I would also like to highlight the role of our national team. The Basque team is going to compete in this world championship. We present ourselves as a nation in the international arena, and this is not something that we can do in all sports which is why it is significant and noteworthy”.

As Lorea Bilbao says, Councillor for the Basque Language, Culture and Sport of the Provincial Council of Bizkaia: “With this world championship we want tug of war to become even better known, by people of all ages, by people from other places, but also the people from here. So that the well-deserved social recognition is given to a sport which is deeply rooted in our traditions, in our herri kirola (traditional sports), in our trades, historical evolution and in our feelings. This is an opportunity to show the magnificence of tug of war, due to the number of athletes taking part in this world championship, due to the high sporting level, because we present ourselves as clubs, as a people, with its own identity, with a feeling and way of doing things, as it represents part of our being. A sport linked to effort, sacrifice, respect, teamwork, camaraderie, fair play, …

This World Championship is also a way of twinning with other countries, a global vision of the world, we feel tug of war to be very much ours and we share it with the over 73 countries in the TWIF which brings us into the same family”.

With regard to the opportunity for Getxo to host a world championship, Amaia Agirre, Mayor of Getxo stressed that, “Getxo is a place that has an intense relationship with sport. Good evidence of this is the recognition of the Best European Sports City that we received in 2014. The associative and citizen fabric around sport and physical activity in our town is robust and very active, and so we think that the athletes who will visit us will be able to feel at home. But also, for Getxo it is strategic to connect the promotion of sport with the promotion of the economy and tourism related to physical activity and healthy leisure. Hence this competition embodies a large part of the values of what we are and projects us to what we want to be: a municipality that connects with the world without losing its identity; a place that inserts sport, physical activity and promotion of healthy habits in its strategy to generate value and well-being for all”.

The organization of this world championship has been a challenge at the organizational level, as the safety measures launched are exceptional and unusual, to ensure and guarantee protection of all of the participants against COVID.

Igor Duñabeitia, President of the Basque Federation of Herri Kirolak, was responsible for presenting these issues at the press conference.

The organization of Sokatira Mundiala has been based on two fundamental precepts: allowing for the development of the championship itself, on the one hand. and, on the other hand, to guarantee the safety and health of all of the participants.

Thus, all of the participants in this championship will go with the guarantee of a negative PCR on their arrival.
 But they will also be gathered in bubbles per team, they will not have contact with the outside and they will minimise contact between themselves. To do so, control methods and protocols have been established for all the related aspects, like accommodation, transport, circulation through the spaces, etc. 
The championship has a permanent medical service provided by Quirón Salud, which includes an isolation area for any symptomatic case during the competition.

The capacity for the public will also be limited to 500 people and a prior reservation system of tickets has been set up to manage the requests.

At the local level, the world championship is an unbeatable opportunity for the dissemination and highlighting of this sport as an inclusive, current sport, which contributes values of teamwork and companionship.

On the competitive level, three of the categories that are held in the world championship for countries also count to obtain the pass for the World Games of Birmingham, Alabama (USA), in 2022.

Maaike Hornsta, General Secretary of the TWIF and who is acting on behalf of its president who will be unable to attend the event due to the situation generated by the pandemic, has recalled her first visits to Euskal Herria as a puller in several competitions and who now has Basque pullers among her friends.

She expressed her regret that not all the countries that would have participated in this world championship are able to travel due to the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, but she is sure that those present will enjoy the hospitality of the Basque people and will offer a good championship.

She has closed her intervention thanking the organization for the effort made and wishing it luck for the championship.

Basque Country National Team

In 2014 the TWIF admitted the Basque national team as a full member in the Federation and, therefore, it can participate in the international competitions, under the name of Basque Country.

It competed for the first time as a national team in August of that same year, in the Tug-of-War World Championship held in Wisconsin, USA.

In the last World Championship in 2018, held in Cape Town, the  Basque Country delegation had great success and returned home with seven medals: silver in 560 kilos in the male category, bronze in 500 kilos in the female and silver achieved on the last day in 720 kilos men, the heaviest and most competitive match of those held in the World Championship.
 And another four in the teams, with two medals for Goiherri and another two for Gaztedi: Goiherri, silver in the 560 kilos category; and bronze in the men’s 640 kilos. And Gaztedi, silver for the female team in the category of 540 kilos; and bronze in the 560 kilos, precisely against Goiherri.

Concerning the sport itself, the Basque Country team aims to achieve the greatest success, demonstrating the capacity and aspiration of the Basque teams to compete in the international arena in any sport modality.

In this championship the Basque Country team will have pulls in 8 categories: 500 kilos and 540 kilos female; 560 kilos, 640 kilos, 680 kilos and 720 kilos male; 580 kilos mixed; and 600 kilos of male men under 23 years old.

Participating nations

Basque Country
China Taipei
Czech Republic
South Africa

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