There’s a big international event coming to San Antonio, and it’s going to be centered here in the neighborhood.


The International Federation of Popular Sports (IVV) has scheduled its bi-annual Olympiad for 2023 to be held here in San Antonio. Prior Olympiads have been held in France, Germany, China, Turkey, Japan, Austria, Italy -- all over the world.


This is the first time, however, that the event will be held anywhere in the Americas.


The event will be hosted by IVV’s US affiliate, the American Volksport Association (AVA), which is headquartered on South Alamo Street, right in the heart of the neighborhood.


The AVA’s CEO & President, Henry Rosales, says that the Olympiad is expected to attract thousands of people from forty countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and the Americas.

IML Walking Association

The AVA is also affiliated with a second international walking organization, the IML Walking Association (formerly the International Marching League).


That organization also hosts international events, and the AVA has arranged it so that both the IVV and the IML will hold their events together next year. The events are being coordinated so that one extends the other.


The plan is that the IVV’s Olympiad will run several days, and there will then be a formal ‘passing of the torch’ from the Olympiad to the IML event, which will extend for another several days. 


In total, then, the two events will cover seven days, including the opening registration event at the beginning of the week.


Getting involved

Unlike many conventions held here in San Antonio, this one won’t lock its participants away in a convention facility. The entire purpose of the event is to get out and see the city and to meet people.


There are four ways for people in the neighborhood to get involved.


First, Henry says he’ll be looking for volunteers, especially ‘ambassadors’ who speak other languages and can help visitors who don’t speak English well. If you are interested in volunteering, contact Susan Pinneke at nc_rd@ava.org.


Second, the local AVA club welcomes new members. So neighbors can join now and become active participants in the organization.


Third, neighborhood bars and restaurants can get involved and welcome the international visitors. Henry points out that the Olympiad and IML gatherings don’t provide meals to the participants, so visitors will be out eating and drinking at local spots. Details aren’t worked out yet, but, as mentioned earlier, Henry expects one walking event to require participants to visit a list of spots, picking up stamps to verify their visits.


And fourth, many events will be open to the public, Henry told us. As the Olympiad gets closer, LNF Weekly will make sure that those events are publicized.

Walking is one of the 'popular sports' featured at the Olympiad, along with biking and swimming.

The event will feature dozens of walking routes that enable visitors to explore San Antonio. It will also include swimming and biking, plus social events in the evening. Plans are still being made, but Henry expects that those evening social events will be centered here, perhaps in La Villita.


At least one of the planned walking events will involve stopping at local bars and restaurants to get stamps — and maybe something to eat and drink.


Henry points out that many events will be open to the public, giving the neighborhood an opportunity to meet international visitors.


“One of the best things about these walking events — and the social events around them — is that they give people a chance to talk to each other, to meet people, and to make new friends,” Henry told us. “I know that visitors from outside the US are going to be excited to see San Antonio and to meet local people.”


AVA - America’s Walking Club

The AVA calls itself ‘America’s Walking Club’. That’s a lot easier to grasp than the formal name, ‘American Volksport Association’.


‘Volksport’ is a German word that can be translated as ‘popular sports’. It’s focused on walking, but it also includes other things, such as biking, swimming, and snow-shoeing. The emphasis is on non-competitive sports that encourage fitness and fellowship among the participants.


The AVA has over 200 local clubs throughout the US, including a few here in the San Antonio area, which organize walking events all year round.


And, as mentioned above, the national organization is headquartered here in the neighborhood, at 1008 South Alamo. Henry offices there, and he welcomes drop-ins from people who want to learn more about the organization or to join it. The office is open Monday through Thursday.

Jim Feuerstein is co-editor of LNF Weekly; he also designs and manages the website.

I know that visitors from outside the US are going to be excited to see San Antonio and to meet local people.

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