Official: Birmingham To Host 2022 Commonwealth Games

Birmingham has won its bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) said Thursday from a school assembly in West Midlands.  CGF President Louise Martin made the announcement at a special gathering of students at the Arena Academy in Birmingham.

Officials, including Birmingham Mayor Andy Street, hold signed copies of the 2022 Commonwealth Games Host City Contract (Birmingham 2022 Photo)

Officials, including Birmingham Mayor Andy Street, hold signed copies of the 2022 Commonwealth Games Host City Contract (Birmingham 2022 Photo)

“We warmly congratulate Birmingham and England on today’s announcement,” Martin said.

“It is a defining moment for this truly Commonwealth city. With its rich history, cultural diversity, youthful dynamism and ambitious spirit, Birmingham embodies all that we cherish about the Commonwealth, and so the Commonwealth Sports Movement looks forward to collaborating with all the Games partners to showcase the city’s humanity and pride to a global audience over the coming months and years.”

Birmingham first outlasted Liverpool in a domestic selection campaign and endured two deadline extensions after being the sole applicant September 30 when prospects were first asked to file documents of intent.

Initially the CGF deemed the bid “not fully compliant” due to conditions around government financial guarantees, but negotiations have resolved the issue.

Birmingham bid Chair Ian Ward said “this is a wonderful way to end the year and celebrate the festive season – with an early Christmas present for the city!”

“At the start of 2017 we were looking into the feasibility of hosting the Games in 2026, but when 2022 became a possibility in April, we made the decision to back ourselves even though we knew that we would need to do a lot of work in a short time frame. That work and belief has been rewarded.”

Durban was the original host city of the 2022 Games after it was elected unopposed in 2015 – it would have been the first time the Games were held in Africa.  The CGF ripped up the contract with the South African city earlier this year when financial milestones were missed, then quickly organized a process to find a replacement city that could organize with new, tighter time-constraints.

“The hard work begins now,” Ward said, adding “and we all have just four-and-a-half years to deliver an unforgettable Games that will shape the future of our city, our region and our people. Thank you for backing Birmingham’s bid.”

Already in preparations to bid for the 2026 event, Birmingham along with Liverpool, were poised to mount strong campaigns where other international cities couldn’t organize quickly enough.  Even with two extensions – first until November 30 and then until mid-December, the most likely rival candidates weren’t able to secure the necessary government endorsements.

Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and Victoria in Canada had been campaigning to mount bids, but without government backing, official applications never materialized.  The CGF said that eight cities had been involved in the process overall, those are thought to include Toronto in Canada, and possibly Australian cities from among Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne.

The CGF indicated that Canada, Malaysia and Australia have expressed interest in bidding for the 2026 Games.

Birmingham officials say the total cost to organize the Games will be about £750m (USD $1 billion) with government funding expected to amount to £560m (USD $750 million).  Birmingham is expected to introduce a hotel tax to help with the funding.

Organizers estimate that the Games will help create 4,526 jobs in the West Midlands until 2022.

England last hosted the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002.  The 2018 edition of the Games is scheduled to be held in Gold Coast, Australia.

About Robert Livingstone

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.