Birmingham is to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games. The official announcement came today (21 December) as the city’s bid was finally confirmed and gives a major boost to the region’s international standing.
After a false start in the autumn when the Commonwealth Games Federation reopened the bidding although Birmingham had been the only bidder, the confirmation means the Games will return to England for the first since 2002, when Manchester welcomed athletes from around the world in a sporting festival that had a huge economic impact.
Birmingham’s was the only bid on the table before the original 30 September 2017 deadline, but it was deemed “not fully compliant” by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), which then gave rivals until 30 November to apply.
Birmingham finally prevailed and will now stage the £750m sporting showpiece, the most expensive sports event in Britain since the London 2012 Olympics.
The bidding process has been a shambles to say the least, with South African city Durban originally awarded the Games in 2015 before being stripped of the event in March 2017 because it did not meet CGF criteria.
Birmingham then edged out Liverpool in September to become Britain’s candidate city and its bid subsequently received government backing.
Birmingham’s proposal includes creating the UK’s largest permanent athletics stadium, supplemented by four indoor arenas.
The West Midlands local authorities need to raise 25% of the overall cost of staging the Games, but are optimistic the event will leave an economic legacy.
Neil Rami (pictured), chief executive of the West Midlands Growth Company and member of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Bid Committee, welcomed the news of the bid win: “This is the West Midlands’ moment to make its mark. Winning the 2022 Commonwealth Games is a tremendous endorsement for Birmingham, providing the city and wider region with an unprecedented opportunity to showcase its recent resurgence and regeneration on an international stage.
“Together with the sporting and cultural legacy that hosting the Games will bring in five years’ time, the event will allow the West Midlands to build crucial trade links with Commonwealth nations and other global markets. By hosting a business expo in the period leading up to the Games, the region will show the way, as the face of modern Britain.”
Anita Bhalla OBE, board member of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) and member of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Bid Committee, described the decision to award the 2022 Commonwealth Games to Birmingham as “a tremendous boost for the region’s reputation on an international stage”.
“Hosting the Games,” she said, “will not only showcase our expertise in delivering major events, but will also highlight the richness of our cultural heritage and the immense talent of our young, digital and diverse population. With more than 5,000 creative organisations employing 31,000 people in Greater Birmingham, the Games will provide us with a platform to display our traditional and contemporary arts scene, further enhancing regional tourism and supporting our growing economy.”