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Words by

Ian Reid

Birmingham 2022 Chief Executive

It is undeniable that 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone but we are grateful that despite the complexities that Covid-19 has brought, we’ve been able to make significant progress in organising the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

That progress has only been possible thanks to the incredibly strong Games Partnership and because of the fantastic team we are assembling at Birmingham 2022. My staff have shown remarkable resilience this year and I would like to pay tribute to all of them.

We’ve tripled in size since January 2020, with our internal team and official recruiter, Gi Group, leading the way in demonstrating flexibility, by recruiting scores of new team members virtually. This includes 12 new apprentices who will join us in January, with around 18 more starting later in the year too.

The pandemic has of course had an impact, but we have successfully limited this.

We made a slight change to our dates, following changes to the international sporting calendar and updated our schedule, to allow athletes as much time as possible to prepare for the Games.

We also found a new solution for accommodating the 6,500 athletes and team officials we’ll be welcoming to the region in July 2022, after it became clear that, because of the global pandemic, the housing being built in the Perry Barr area of Birmingham unfortunately couldn’t be completed in time for the Games.

The flexibility, resilience and tenacity the partnership has shown in abundance this year, when responding to these challenges, will stand us in good stead as we move into the next phase of delivering an outstanding and memorable edition of the Commonwealth Games.

We’ve also been lucky enough to have huge moments of celebration in 2022. Longines was announced as Official Partner and Timekeeper for not only Birmingham 2022 but also for a further two editions of the Games and we activated the Longines sponsored countdown clock in the heart of the host city.  We also launched our community programme, United by Birmingham 2022, which already has more than 50 projects signed up.

In the summer we launched our nation-wide mascot campaign, with young people from across the country amazing us with their incredible creativity. We can’t wait to unveil the winning design.

On the 28 July we celebrated two years to go by unveiling Smithfield in the heart of Birmingham as the location for beach volleyball, basketball 3×3 and wheelchair basketball 3×3 and we’ve also recently added St Nicholas Park in Warwick and West Park in Wolverhampton to our venue portfolio. Both of these beautiful parks will provide a stunning backdrop for our road cycling events.

Towards the end of the year both our daily schedule and medal event programme were unveiled. The publication of the latter confirmed that we’ll make history by not only having the biggest ever integrated parasport programme, but we’ll also be the first ever major multi-sport event to award more medals to women than men.

We’ve continued to create exciting new partnerships this year with Longines, the University of Birmingham, Gi Group, North, Sunset and Vine and NVT Group all joining Gowling WLG as official sponsors.

The BBC was also announced recently as our domestic broadcast rights holder and with the corporation’s amazing track record in covering previous editions of the Games, we know we are in safe hands.

Fantastic progress has also been made on our two key capital projects this year. Full credit to the teams working on the redevelopment of the Alexander Stadium and the construction of the brand new Aquatics Centre in Sandwell because it is truly impressive what they have been able to achieve, and those facilities, which will both serve the community post-Games, are on budget, on schedule and are really starting to take shape.

We are all now fully focused on 2021 which will be an important and exciting year for us.

We hope to release details of the routes for our road cycling and marathon events, unveil the mascot, start our recruitment of more than 12,000 volunteers, publish a more detailed timetable, launch our tickets and the Queen’s Baton will also begin its journey around the Commonwealth nations and territories.

We’re also looking forward to sharing more details about the six-month culture programme which sits alongside the 11 days of sport, this will be extensive, inclusive and a fantastic and joyful celebration of the city and region, providing even more opportunities to be part of the Games.

Early in 2021 we’ll welcome two new board members, a new community engagement team and key team members, including a head of equality, diversity and inclusion.

We’re also continue to recruit and procure, underlining the critical role that we know that the Games will play in helping the West Midlands recover from a turbulent time in 2020.

2021 really will be a crucial and exciting 12 months and I for one can’t wait for it to begin.

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