As the one-year countdown began, a festival of sport was showcased as many of the events that will be part of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games programme – including a boxing ring, basketball court, netball court, squash court and sprint track - was on show in Centenary Square in the city.
The Commonwealth Games are set to get under way in one years’ time – with Birmingham hosting the Games between 28 July and 8 August 2022, with events also taking place in the wider West Midlands region. As the Tokyo Olympics remain in the sporting spotlight, Commonwealth Games organisers set up this day of sporting activities as the city centre was filled with ‘bite-sized’ sports demonstrations, with Team England athletes in attendance as part of the precursor.
With a total of 286 sessions set to take place at the 2022 Games, involving 19 sports and eight para-sports, at venues in the host city, plus neighbouring Sandwell borough, the nearby cities of Wolverhampton and Coventry, along with Leamington Spa in Warwickshire, Cannock Chase in Staffordshire and the NEC in Solihull, this free event open-air was an “open invite” to families and other people from across the city and beyond to take part in the sporting activities and celebrate the countdown to Birmingham 2022.
A number of elite athletes, as well as representatives from the national governing bodies of twelve Commonwealth sports ran several exciting activities which provided a chance for people to have a go at some sports that will be seen this time next year. The sports were also showcased through demonstrations from Team England athletes throughout the day, providing people with a glimpse of the sporting action that they can witness across the region next summer.
Ian Reid, CEO of Birmingham 2022, said: "After a challenging 18 months for everyone, we are sure that the Games and the six-month culture programme, which will accompany it, will give us all something to look forward to. With a new, revamp 1st class Alexander Stadium set to be the central hub of the Games, venues like the NEC will be another hub staging the likes of world-class badminton, boxing, netball, table tennis, para table tennis, weightlifting and para powerlifting.
“That site will be one of the Games' three campus villages to host athletes from across the Commonwealth throughout next summer's event.” He also encouraged residents to consider signing up as volunteers.
“I’m so excited, said, Birmingham City Council Deputy Leader, Brigid Jones. “If you see what’s happening in Tokyo at the moment, that’s just a warm-up for us.
“Our city is going to be on everyone’s TV and computer screen then. So much investment is coming our way. We’ve got infra-structure programmes coming in one of the best athletics stadiums in the country to be completed, transport links that we would otherwise not get and a lasting legacy after the Games.
“Over the course of the next year we will be releasing £6million for community grants and organisations to bid for. We’re going to put on the best Commonwealth Games ever.
Birmingham-born Olympics and Commonwealth gold medallist, Mark Lewis-Francis added: “These are exciting times for us Brummies. It’s not just having the Games here – it’s the legacy it will leave after it.
“It’s important that the following generations access these facilities and chase their own goals. Hopefully this (The Games) will encoring parents and guardians to take their young ones down to a sporting venue and get them involved.
An “incredibly excited” Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “It’s going to be a wonderful privilege to welcome people – competitors and spectators – to full stadia.
“We are on target to complete the venues on time- and all the transport infra-structure that goes with it. All the things put in place will be there for local residents after the Games and forever into the future. They will be long-term facilities
“Be really proud of what your city, your region will be saying to the rest of the world.”