Since the beginning of the last century the game of Go has spread around the world. In the Americas this development started in Brazil and the USA. In Europe Go was introduced in Germany and the Netherlands. The European Go Federation was founded in 1959.
In particular, Japan has supported the overseas promotion of Go. A major turning point was the organisation of the first World Amateur Go Championship in 1979, supported by the Japanese government, the Nihon Ki-in and Japan Airlines. This event brought together the top players and officials from the major Go-playing countries. This gathering led to the founding of the International Go Federation on 18th March 1982, with 29 founding members.
The IGF has sent many Go teachers and promoters around the world and popularised the game. In many countries these Go promoters and professionals have helped to organise the local community to form a National Association.
After the game is introduced, the IGF works to strengthen the local organisations. Promotion and teaching material has been produced and translated in many languages.
As of June 2012 the IGF has 74 members on all continents.
Europe counts 37 members, Asia 17, the Americas 15, Africa 3 and Oceania 2. The total number of players is well over 40 million, the overwhelming majority in East Asia.
The International Go Federation is a founding member of International Mind Sports Association and was granted full membership of SportAccord (ex GAISF) on 7th April 2006 at the 40th General Assembly in Seoul, Korea, a step which should help IGF members in seeking membership of their respective NOC or national sports authority. Provisional membership had been gained on 20th May 2004.