In 1968 the “Commission des Sports de l’Association du Personnel de l’UNESCO” organized an omnisports meeting in Paris against a team from UN Geneva. Both organizations continued organizing omnisports meetings in 1969 and 1970.
In 1971, UN Geneva organised the first multi-institutional sports competition in Champéry, Switzerland. Ten organizations of the UN System with offices in Europe participated. The Games included the following disciplines: chess, football, table tennis, tennis and men’s volleyball.
Thus the United Nations Inter-Agency Games were initiated and the principle of alternating the venue and the responsibility for the organization of the Games among the UN organizations in Geneva, Rome, Vienna and Paris were adopted. General Rules for the Games were adopted and a Control Commission established to assure their adherence.
Over the years, the Games have developed from 5 disciplines and some 350 participants to 13 disciplines and more than 1000 participants.
At the outset the purpose of the Games was modestly defined as ” to enable the staff members of the Agencies and organizations of the United Nations family to know each other through sports meetings and thereby to improve mutual understanding and working relations ” (Article 1 of the General Rules).
The significance and merit of the Games for the UN organizations and their staff members have truly gained momentum and have in principle been recognized in the annual opening messages of the heads of the Host organizations. On the occasion of the 20th Games held in Baden, Austria in 1991, Mr. D. L. Siazon Jr., Director General of UNIDO stated in his opening message:
“I believe the Games provide more than a pleasurable diversion from the daily routine, more than an opportunity for staff to pit their respective skills against those of their colleagues, and more than simply a display of physical or intellectual prowess, impressive as that may be. Bringing together both participants and supporters from numerous agencies, the Games present a unique reminder to us that we are all part of the United Nations family. Against a current background of world-wide turmoil, our horizons must stretch beyond the four walls of our own organizations. The co-operation, solidarity, teamwork and striving for excellence which are the hallmarks of true sportsman, must also be apparent in our day-to-day lives.”
The Geneva based UN organizations established the “Commission Inter- Organisations des Sports”(CIOS) which co-ordinates the participation of their staff members in the Games and often assists the Host organization in organizing the Games whenever it is Geneva’s turn within the four-year cycle.
In 2001 the IAG were organized by ITU and they were held, for the first time in a country other than the traditional ones (Austria, France, Italy or Switzerland). It was held in Alicante, Spain.
With the same spirit of alternating the venue of the IAG in countries other than the ones mentioned above, the IAG were organized in Antalya, Turkey in 2002.
In 2003, the 31st Edition of IAG was organized by IAEA. The venue was Sousse, Tunisia. However, due to the world-wide critical situation and the war in Irak, the Inter-Agency Games were first postponed and then definitely cancelled.
In 2004, the 32nd Edition of the IAG are going to be held in Aix-les-Bains (France) from 29 April – 3 May 2004. They are organized by UNESCO.
A Chronological History of the UN Inter-Agency Games
In 1968, at the invitation of the ‘Commission des Sports de l’Association du personnel del l’ UNESCO’, a sports meeting was held in Paris of teams from the United Nations Geneva and UNESCO. Mr. Rene Maheu, the Director General of UNESCO, donated a cup for the occasion, thus were the Inter-Agency Games born, and the same spirit has remained, although the present name was not adopted until 1972.
However, the principle of alternating the Games began right from the start, and five events were listed on the programme, chess, football, table tennis, tennis and men’s volleyball.
In 1971, the United Nations (Geneva), in co-operation with FAO (Rome), IAEA (Vienna) and UNESCO (Paris) took an important step in organising the first multi-institutional competition at Champery, in the Canton of Valais, Switzerland. Ten UN organisations, with offices in Europe, took part.
In 1972 the FAO hosted the second “Inter-Agency Games” in Rome and the “Mini Olympics” were on their way. A Control Commission was also created to prepare the rules and regulations.
In 1973 the IAEA was the host to the third IAG held in Vienna, Austria with the participation of 350 competitors, representing seven organisations.
In 1974 UNESCO was the host to the fourth IAG and the number of participants reached 400. The Games were hosted in Vittel, France.
In 1975 the Geneva organisations hosted the fifth IAG under the banner of the “Inter-Organizational Sports Commission” (IOSC) at Onex near Geneva.
In 1976 the sixth IAG returned to Vienna, hosted by UNIDO and at the same time this ended the final year of the first cycle.
In 1977, FAO hosted the seventh IAG which began the second cycle in Senigallia, a charming beach resort on the Adriatic coast of Italy. The number of official disciplines was increased to six by including one annually rotating discipline, chosen between athletics, bowling, bridge, golf, pétanque, swimming and women’s volleyball. On this occasion, the Federation of International Civil Servants’ (FICSA) donated a new challenge cup for the winning team, which, on its inauguration, went to UNESCO. This was not an unexpected victory as they had already won the Games on six of the previous ten occasions, UN Geneva having won the other four.
In 1978, WHO organised the eighth IAG in Geneva, adding bowling to the programme. A total of 500 competitors had to be accommodated.
In 1979, The IAEA organised the ninth IAG in Vienna, Austria. Pétanque was made the rotating sixth official discipline, bowling and women’s volleyball were also contested.
In 1980, because of organisational problems faced by UNESCO the Games were postponed until the following year.
In 1981, UNESCO organised the postponed tenth IAG in Bordeaux, France with bridge as the sixth rotating discipline. They also included bowling, pétanque and women’s volleyball. These Games were notable in that both UNESCO and UN Geneva lost their stranglehold on the competition for the first time in 14 years, FAO won the FICSA challenge cup for the first time.
In 1982, UNIDO hosted the eleventh IAG in Altmünster, Austria. The rotating discipline was athletics. Once again the FAO won the FICSA challenge cup.
In 1983, UN Geneva hosted the twelfth IAG in Milano-Marittima, Italy. The sixth rotating discipline was ladies’ volleyball. (It is interesting to note that “women’s volleyball” had suddenly become “ladies’ volleyball)”. These Games were the last of the second cycle and FAO won the FICSA challenge cup once again.
In 1984, the FAO hosted the thirteenth IAG in Senigallia, Italy. The number of official disciplines was increased to eight, athletics, pétanque, and ladies’ volleyball were added. Another change was affected, namely the system of overall rating was abolished, thus encouraging smaller organisations to participate in certain disciplines only.
In 1985, the IAEA hosted the fourteenth IAG in Altmünster, Austria. For the first time a team representing UN New York participated. The additional disciplines were darts and sailing.
In 1986, the fifteenth IAG were hosted by the ITU Geneva in Caorle, Italy. ILO Turin participated for the first time and there was a record number of 1300 participants. The optional disciplines were bridge, cycling, darts and windsurfing.
In 1987, ending the third cycle, the ILO Turin organised the sixteenth IAG in Stresa, Italy. For the first time a demonstration golf competition was organised. The optional disciplines were badminton, cycling, darts and windsurfing.
In 1988, UNESCO hosted the seventeenth IAG which, at the same time was the first Games of the fourth cycle in Cap d’Agde, France. The rotating disciplines were badminton, bridge, golf and windsurfing. Darts was not included in these Games and all the dart teams organised an alternative Games in Geneva which the IAEA won. In addition, an Inter-Agency Games flag, designed by UNESCO, was approved by the Control Commission to be used for the first time in 1989.
In 1989, the eighteenth IAG were hosted by the FAO in Chianciano, Italy. They raised the new IAG flag for the first time which depicted the emblems of the 20 participating organisations. It was the first time that WHO Copenhagen participated and WFP participated as an independent organisation.
In 1990, WIPO hosted the nineteenth IAG in Cervia Milano-Marittima, Italy. The optional and supplementary disciplines were badminton, bridge, cycling, darts, golf, swimming and windsurfing.
In 1991, UNIDO hosted the twentieth IAG in Baden, Austria. These Games ended the fourth cycle. The optional disciplines were bridge, darts, golf and swimming. The Chair of the Control Commission, Ms. Judy Lavnick-Wainstead, observed, on a number of occasions, the darts competition and commented that the atmosphere, the amount of participation and enthusiasm enshrined every concept of the principles of the Games. As a result, the Commission confirmed darts as an official discipline as of the commencement of the fifth cycle starting in 1992.
In 1992, UNESCO hosted the twenty-first IAG in Vichy, France. The supplementary disciplines were badminton, bridge, golf and windsurfing. The Control Commission agreed to add basketball to the list of supplementary disciplines for future Games.
In 1993, the twenty-second IAG were hosted by WHO Geneva instead of Rome because WHO wanted to mark its 45th Anniversary. The Games were held in Cervia Milano-Marittima, Italy. Basketball was included as an optional discipline for the first time with mixed teams.
In 1994, FAO organised the twenty-third IAG in Montecatini Terme, Tuscany, Italy. Twenty-two Agencies participated with a total of 1,401 participants which was a new record for the Games. The supplementary disciplines were basketball, golf and swimming. There was an IAG flag raising ceremony to the music of Marcia Trionfale from Aida, by Guiseppe Verdi.
In 1995, the IAEA hosted the twenty-fourth IAG in Altmünster, Austria. The rotating disciplines were badminton, basketball and golf. Twenty-five organisations were represented with 1,247 active participants.
In 1996, UNESCO hosted the twenty-fifth IAG in Vichy, France. There were 1000 participants.
In 1997, UN Geneva hosted the twenty-sixth IAG in Caorle, Italy. There were about 1,300 participants, not only from the European duty stations but also from New York and Nairobi.
In 1998, the twenty-seventh IAG was hosted by FAO and held in Pesaro, Italy.
In 1999, No Games. UNIDO were not in a position to organise the Games.
In 2000, the twenty-eighth IAG was hosted by UNESCO and held in Aix-les-Bains, France.
In 2001, the twenty-ninth IAG was hosted by ITU, Geneva and held in Alicante, Spain. This marked the first time that the Games were held outside of the four main-duty station host countries. There were 1429 participants registered.
In 2002, the thirtieth IAG were held in Antalya, Turkey and hosted jointly between the Vienna organisations of the IAEA, UNOV and CTBTO.
In 2003, because of the trouble in Iraq the thirty-first IAG never took place.
In 2004, the thirty-second IAG were hosted by UNESCO in Aix-les-Bains, France.
In 2005, WHO hosted the thirty-third Games in Crete.
In 2006, FAO hosted the thirty-fourth Games in Pesaro, Italy.
In 2007, IAEA hosted the thirty-fifth Games in Seefeld-in-Tirol, Austria.
In 2008, UNESCO hosted the thirty-sixth Games in Biarritz, France.
In 2009, IAEA hosted the thirty-seventh Games in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria. The IAG Secretariat was created and came into force.
In 2010, the Games hosted by FAO were unfortunately cancelled.
In 2011 UN,UNIDO and IAEA hosted the Games in Gmunden, Traunsee.
In 2012 The Games were hosted by UNESCO in Biarritz, France
In 2013 The Games were hosted by UN Geneva in Marina d’Or, Spain
In 2014 The Games were hosted by New York and held on Long Island, NY, USA
In 2015 The Games were hosted by ITU and held in Salou, Tarragona Spain