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Let the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games begin! – Part 1

Let the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games begin! – Part 1

The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games is here!

After years of planning and operational and logistical twists, turns and challenges along the way, I’m delighted that we are finally ready to play our part in making the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games the best Games ever.

Birmingham 2022 is the largest, multi-sport event to be held in England for a decade (since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games) and it will be the biggest event in the history of the West Midlands. Birmingham 2022 will be the 22nd edition of the Commonwealth Games (the first Games was held back in 1930) and this year’s event will focus global attention on our city like never before.

In just a matter of days, around 6,500 athletes and team officials from 72 Commonwealth nations and territories will come together for a 12-day celebration of sport and culture. More than 1.2 million ticketed spectators will be entertained across 19 sports and 8 para sports, and the Games is expected to reach a global broadcast audience of more than one billion people.

As one of the 15 venues hosting the Games, we are ready.

Birmingham 2022 branding at the Vale Village
The Vale Village being transformed into the Games’ Athletes’ Village.

Getting ready for the Games

Teams across the University have worked tirelessly to get campus ready for the Games. Our amazing cleaners and accommodation staff have prepared more than 3,500 rooms for athletes, teams and officials, while our catering teams have been busy preparing to serve 200,000 meals at the Athletes’ Village alone. This doesn’t include food and drink for up to 190,000 spectators, Games family, broadcasters, and the Games workforce.

Our Estates teams have completed all our capital projects, including the replacement of our water-based pitches; the construction of a new laundry and social space; the installation of new accessibility facilities to support para-sport competitors; the replacement of floodlights; the demolition of our old sports pavilion; and much more. All this work will not only provide the support the Games needs but have a lasting impact on our students, staff and visitors.

New laundry and social space at the Vale Village
Our new Mason laundry and social space at the Vale Village.

As an Official Partner, as well as the venue for hockey and squash, an Athletes’ Village, a training venue for athletics and swimming, and a catering provider, the University has a Games delivery workforce of over 1,500 staff (in addition to many more contractors and suppliers!). As a result, our HR team has worked around the clock, in partnership with members of the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee to ensure our workforce for the Games has the appropriate access to our venue and village operations for seamless event delivery.

Helping to deliver the Games is a monumental effort for everyone at the University though. Security, IT, Parking, Legal, Finance, Health and Safety and External Relations have all been working alongside our academic Schools and Colleges to ensure we can maintain our business-as-usual outside of operations related to the Games.

The University is no stranger to delivering major events and conferences, facilitating open days, degree ceremonies and student arrivals for thousands annually, but never have we undertaken such a vast programme of activities at this level of complexity and scale.

University of Birmingham athletics track
Our athletics track is a Birmingham 2022 training venue for athletes and para-athletes.

Campus comes alive!

As a world top-100 university, we can’t wait to welcome thousands of spectators via our unique University railway station and showcase our wealth of cultural assets – such as the Barber Institute of Fine Art, Winterbourne House and Garden and the Lapworth Museum of Geology – across our 270-acre campus. For us, the Games is not just about sport and culture; it’s a chance for us to show the world what game-changing Birmingham is all about.

It’s not just Birmingham City Centre that is looking fantastic either. Campus is now awash with bright Birmingham 2022 branding; our competition venues, pavements, buildings, and rail infrastructure are proudly playing their part to ensure we provide a world-class welcome for the duration of the Games and beyond.

University buildings wrapped in bright Commonwealth Games branding.
Our buildings ready and wrapped for Birmingham 2022.

Supporting a home advantage

We were honoured to host Team England’s VIP kit reveal at our new home in the city centre, The Exchange, last month. The reveal enabled groups including national governing bodies of sport, universities, and members of Team England to get a look at the kit, designed by official kit supplier Kukri Sports.

The kit will be proudly worn by more than 400 athletes and 200 support staff representing England in the 19 sports and eight para sports.

The Exchange building exterior
The Exchange hosted Team England’s VIP kit reveal last month and is dressed and ready to impress this summer.

In addition to our venue and village commitments, our 4-star Edgbaston Park Hotel and Conference Centre will host many other major conferences and events during the Games, as well as Team Wales House. The hotel will also play host to Commonwealth Associations (CGAs), future commonwealth athletes, media, and Games sponsors, giving them the opportunity to celebrate their achievements against the backdrop of the Games and a unique setting.

The Vale Village lake with Commonwealth flags surrounding it.
72 flags from across the Commonwealth stand proudly on campus at our Athletes’ Village.

The magnitude of our operations is now clear, with our staff, students, and local community all excited to see what lies ahead as we eagerly await the Opening Ceremony on 28 July. We’re also looking forward to playing our part in making Birmingham 2022 a Games for everyone.

Credit must go to the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee, Birmingham City Council, and all Partners and Providers for the Games in getting us to this point. It really is an incredible effort and achievement.

Whatever your plans for the Games, I hope you have a fantastic experience and enjoy what will undoubtedly be an incredible celebration of sport, culture, and pride in our city and communities across the West Midlands. Have a great Games!

Tom Clift

Tom Clift

View all posts by Tom Clift

Tom manages the delivery of a number of strategic partnership projects, particularly across the areas of sport and major events. At present he is leading the delivery of the University’s Commonwealth Games venue and village operations.

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