Earlier this week Birmingham was finally confirmed as the host city for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. This is the third time that Great Britain has held the event since the start of the millennium with other cities including Manchester in 2002 and Glasgow in 2014 also being awarded title of host.
It wasn’t a smooth path for Birmingham to secure victory as Commonwealth Games host. The event was first awarded to Durban in South Africa in 2015. However, Durban had the games repealed in March this year due to huge financial difficulties. Questions quickly arose about which city would take its place and be awarded the honour of 2022 Commonwealth Games hosts. Throughout the UK cities bided to be Great Britain’s primary city to be put forward to the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF). It became a tight battel between Liverpool and Birmingham. Birmingham won and became the only city to apply by the official CGF deadline. However, Birmingham had to wait a further three months before finding out whether it would be selected. Controversy sparked when the CGF stated that Birmingham’s bid was ‘not fully compliant’ with CGF criteria. This resulting in the deadline for applications being pushed backed in the hope that cities in Canada and Malaysia – who had previously expressed interest – would apply. Yet none came forward resulting in a win for Birmingham.
The controversy sparked by the Durban repeal highlights the
inequality within the bidding process throughout all major sporting events. All cities want to host, yet the ability to finance comes priority when federations select hosts. Durban isn’t the first and won’t be the last not be able to afford to host events like the Commonwealth Games. With the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games set to cost £750 million – including a new aquatics centre, a brand-new athletes village as well as expanding the athletes stadium – it isn’t a cheap investment. It’s clear not all commonwealth countries can afford such extravagant expenditure resulting in them not being able to bid for host cities reinforcing inequality. Birmingham has stated that hosting the Commonwealth Games is an exceptional opportunity as will allow Birmingham to recreate itself to the world as a city full of a rich cultural history and diversity. The opportunity that Birmingham is receiving will not only bring in money to the region but give spotlight to the city to regenerate itself. As well as having huge economic benefits for the region. It is estimated that over 22,000 jobs will be created over the next four years leading up the Games. The publicity and tourism created from th
is event will not only provide a platform for Birmingham to uplift itself but will generate a large income with an estimated 500,000 to 1 million visitors exploring Birmingham on each of the 11 days that the Games takes place. All cities across the world deserve this opportunity to create thousands of jobs contributing to the economy and to show the world what they are made of. Yet this can’t happen due to the issue of finance and economic problems that cities and countries all round the world face. Out of the six commonwealth games since the turn of the century Great Britain has hosted three of them. Further demonstrating the inequality in selection but also the lack of ability by other commonwealth countries to be able to afford the games presenting a slightly darker side that these phenomenal games have.
That’s not to say that it isn’t an exceptional opportunity that Birmingham should be grateful and proud to have received. It’s a chance to demonstrate to the rest of the world what an exceptional city Birmingham truly is. It will bring money into the West Midlands which will hopefully be used to increase standards of living and economic growth to prove that there is a reason as to why Birmingham is the U.Ks second city. With 25% of the money being funded locally there is a hope that it will inspire children and people of all ages to become engaged and participate in sport to one day become the next Jessica Ennis-Hill or Mo Farah.
The University of Birmingham has a huge responsibility in this legacy. With its £55 million sports complex being opened earlier this year, the University of Birmingham is one of the leaders in sport in the West Midlands. The Commonwealth Games Squash will be held in the new sports centre with 6 world class glass backed squash courts and the ability to turn the main sports hall into a stunning arena for the finals, its going to be an experience not to miss! Additionally, with the new sport pitches being built at Bournbrook, the University of Birmingham has also been selected to host the Commonwealth Games Hockey, with the brand new stunning water based hockey pitches and the addition of 4000 capacity seating its going to make for a stunning venue. University of Birmingham facilities are not going to be the only thing representing Birmingham during these games. Several of the University of Birmingham sporting scholars – be them both past and present – will be taking to the tracks, courts and pitches to represent their country with pride.
Its going to be a phenomenal 11 days. We are ready. Are you?