Photo Credit: AAU

DES MOINES, Iowa (August 22, 2022) – It was announced today that Greater Des Moines will host the AAU Junior Olympic Games in 2026 and 2030. Des Moines is tabbed to host the 2023 AAU Junior Olympic Games, July 26 – August 5, 2023. The AAU Junior Olympic Games is the largest multi-sport event for youth in the U.S. and will feature 12 sporting competitions hosted at Drake Stadium and MidAmerican Energy Company RecPlex in West Des Moines. 

“We are thrilled to welcome back the AAU Junior Olympic Games to Greater Des Moines next year and forge a relationship for this next decade,” said Catch Des Moines President and CEO Greg Edwards. “Bringing in more than 14,000 youth athletes, in addition to coaches, parents, and fans has huge impact to our community and state. The athletes get to compete at an iconic venue like Drake Stadium in addition to the brand-new MidAmerican Energy Company RecPlex.” 

“This is very exciting news for our state and will have a great impact on our local economies,” said Governor Kim Reynolds. “Anytime we get the opportunity to showcase Iowa on the national stage is yet another chance for us to share just how great our state is and the great potential we have. I’m confident the athletes, their families, and the spectators will agree that Iowa is the right choice to host the AAU Junior Olympic Games.”

Next year’s event will be the seventh time that Greater Des Moines has hosted the Games, with the first time being in 1995 and the most recent in 2018. Edwards notes that this is one of the largest and most impactful events that Catch Des Moines brings into the metro. 

The 2023 AAU Junior Olympic Games will host sports competitions in events such as baton twirling, fencing, field hockey, jump rope, karate, sport stacking, swimming, taekwondo, track and field, trampoline and tumbling, and boys and girls wrestling. 

“We’re thrilled to bring the AAU Junior Olympic Games back to Des Moines,” said AAU President and CEO Jennings “Rusty” Buchanan. “Des Moines has the experience that we can count on to run a successful event, creating once-in-a-lifetime participation opportunities for youth athletes across the country. As our event has grown over the years, it’s been exciting to see Greater Des Moines grow as a region as well, offering not only the venues to host, but the amenities and things to do that make coming back such a fun experience for our athletes, coaches and families.” 

The 2023 Games will bring in approximately 14,000 participants, resulting in an estimated total economic impact of $44 million dollars.

About Catch Des Moines
Catch Des Moines is the official destination marketing organization promoting and representing Greater Des Moines to leisure travelers and meeting/sports planners. Our focus is to increase visitors to the metro and elevate the visitor experience to drive economic success and enhance the quality of life in the 14 local Greater Des Moines communities we represent. For more information, visit

About the AAU:
The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) is one of the largest, non-profit, volunteer sports organizations in the country. As a multi-sport organization, the AAU is dedicated exclusively to the promotion and development of amateur sports programs. Founded in 1888 to establish standards and uniformity in sports, the AAU philosophy of “Sports For All, Forever” is now shared by nearly 700,000 members and 150,000 volunteers across 45 sports programs and 55 U.S. districts. For more information, visit