Birmingham 2022: 100 days to go until ‘biggest and boldest’ Commonwealth Games

The start of the Games is just 100 days away now

Birmingham and the West Midlands will be “buzzing” in 100 days’ time as the “biggest, boldest” Commonwealth Games get under way, its chief executive has said.

This summer’s event, which runs from July 28 to August 8, is set to be the first major multi-sports event to take place free of any Covid-19 restrictions.

The pandemic made an already shortened run-in time to the Games even more challenging for Birmingham 2022 chief executive Ian Reid and his team, but now the Scot believes it brings an extra excitement and spotlight to the region.

David Grevemberg, Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Ian Reid, Chief Executive Officer at Birmingham and Andy Street, with Athletics para-athlete Nathan Maguire of Team England (Photo by Miles Willis/Getty Images for Birmingham 2022)

What has the Games chief executive said?

“I think hopefully in 100 days’ time, we’re about to put on what might be one of the first multi-sport events in the world where we do have full stadia, where we do have live sites and the city absolutely buzzing,” Reid said.

“The spotlight of the world will be on Birmingham and the West Midlands in that context. So perhaps it’s going to bring even further engagement with the event than perhaps we would have had pre-pandemic.”

The pandemic forced organisers to drop plans for an athletes’ village in Perry Barr to house 6,500 competitors, who will now be split over three existing sites at the universities of Birmingham and Warwick and the NEC.

“It’s a little bit more difficult for teams in managing (the athletes) but there is a lot of upside from a performance perspective,” Reid said.

“A lot of our athletes now are staying in a village that’s very close to both their training and their competition venues. If you’re staying at the University of Birmingham, squash is there, hockey is there, cricket is just next door.

“If you’re staying at the NEC, five of our sports are right on your doorstep. You can literally walk to your training and to competition. A lot (of athletes) have welcomed that.”

Reid is pleased the redevelopment at Perry Barr to create 5,000 new homes as part of the Games’ legacy will still go ahead as originally planned.

“I thought it was a much safer option to focus on the village as a legacy, make sure the community get the benefits that we committed to at the start, but give the athletes certainty,” he said.

Reid is encouraged that ticket sales for Birmingham are ahead of where the previous two Games – Gold Coast and Glasgow – were at the same stage.

“That fills us with great confidence because both those events (ultimately) sold well over 90 per cent of their tickets,” said Reid, who was the chief financial officer for the 2014 Glasgow Games organising committee.

A banner in the ground for Birmingham’s bid for the 2022 commonwealth games during the NatWest T20 Blast Semi-Final match between Birmingham Bears and Glamorgan at Edgbaston (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Tickets back on sale

Tickets go back on sale on Tuesday (19 April) on the Games’ official website – the final major release.

Birmingham is likely to be the last Commonwealth Games of its kind, with the Commonwealth Games Federation’s new roadmap offering greater flexibility to hosts on the number and type of sports they include.

While Reid believes those changes are welcome, he feels Birmingham is well equipped to host under the ‘old’ model, and insists the two major capital projects – the redevelopment of the Alexander Stadium, which will host athletics, and the new-build Sandwell Aquatics Centre – will be valuable community assets.

“They have both been delivered against the clock and in tough circumstances,” Reid said.

“Sandwell Aquatics Centre, I think in terms of a legacy, is genuinely built for the community and adapted for the Games, not the other way around.”

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