Birmingham City Council Leader Ian Ward on what he thinks of the Commonwealth Games
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, reflects on the success of the Commonwealth Games, which come to an end today (Monday, August 8). See his Letter to Birmingham here
and live on Freeview channel 276
Well, that was quite something, wasn’t it? Over these past 2 weeks we have welcomed over a million visitors from across the world to our city, and I would like to thank each and every one of you for giving them the best welcome imaginable.
The Commonwealth Games are referred to as ‘the friendly Games’, but never before have the Games been held in such a welcoming, open and friendly city.
Ours is truly a Commonwealth city, as there are Brummies who can trace their roots back to every single nation and territory of the Commonwealth. Our diversity is our greatest strength, and this has shone through every moment of these Games.
Watching the Opening Ceremony at the Alexander Stadium was one of the best moments of my life. I felt so proud of our city, of what we have achieved in hosting the Games, and of the welcome that we gave the world.
And in the days that have followed, that feeling of pride has only increased. Walking around the city, whether that was in Victoria Square, Smithfield, Swanshurst Park, Centenary Square, the University of Birmingham, the Alexander Stadium, Edgbaston, Sandwell Aquatics Centre, or indeed anywhere else, there has been an incredible atmosphere.
And didn’t the city look incredible? The colour and vibrancy of the sporting venues, our beautiful architecture, our tree-lined streets, our historic canals and our sunny blue skies all contributed to a party atmosphere like nothing this city has seen before.
Our 14,000 volunteers have been the beating heart of the Games, helping to guide visitors around the city, always with a friendly smile and, more often than not, a giant foam hand high-five. I am incredibly grateful to every single one of you for the crucial role you have played.
A huge thank you also goes to the thousands of unsung heroes who have kept our city moving, kept our streets clean and tidy, kept our bars and restaurants fully stocked and kept our streets safe. You have all done a phenomenal job during the busiest time that our city has ever experienced. You are all a credit to Birmingham, and I cannot thank you enough for what you have done.
One constant theme of the Games has been the praise that the athletes have heaped on the fans for the atmosphere in the venues. From roaring our runners along the home strait and cheering on our valiant netballers, to the deafening din at the swimming events, you have shown immense support to all of our athletes.
And what a show they have put on for us. We have had so many sporting highlights over the past 11 days, whether that was Birmingham-born Joe Fraser’s gymnastics marvels, home-town basketballer Myles Hesson’s winning shot, or the women’s hockey team taking Gold, we have been treated to exceptional sport here in our home city.
And as the Games draw to a close today, I feel that same incredible feeling of pride that I felt at the Opening Ceremony.
Birmingham, we have delivered the best Commonwealth Games ever. We have shown the world what it means to Be Bold Be Birmingham and we have put on the best party that this city has ever seen.
And it goes further than that, we have inspired a generation of youngsters who will have new heroes, new ambitions to take up sports, or get involved in music, dance or theatre. We have put our city on the world stage, and we have shone.
Now, our duty is to ensure that the legacy of these Games are shared amongst every community of Birmingham. We have already brought over £1 billion of investment into the city by hosting the Games, meaning new homes, new jobs and new opportunities. And we are already benefitting from better public transport, new sporting facilities and improved public realm.
We’re going to continue investing in grassroots sports, ensuring that people right across the city can stay active in their neighbourhoods, and we’ve already secured funding for 20 new or improved basketball facilities across Birmingham.
We’ve shown that we can host one of the biggest events in the sporting calendar, we’re already set to host the World Blind Games and the Trampoline and Tumbling Championships, and I’m so excited that we are now putting ourselves forward to host the European Athletics Championships in 2026, and of course Eurovision next year.
I believe that in decades to come we will look back on the Games as the moment that Birmingham took a huge step forward, and I can’t wait to see what the years ahead have in store for our city.
We will continue to Be Bold, Be Birmingham.
Councillor Ian Ward
Leader, Birmingham City Council
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