The Commonwealth Games are coming to Birmingham in July 2022 and they look set to be the biggest yet. With hundreds of events across a range of sports including diving, gymnastics and athletics, and more medal events for women than ever before, it’s truly an event that can’t be missed.
Like other similar international multisport events of this calibre, the games will bring economic and cultural opportunities to the city, allowing Birmingham to shine it’s glorious credentials brightly on the global stage.
However, this opportunity needs to be matched with continued investment, confidence, and the right urban governance to facilitate. Birmingham is working hard to implement a programme of change across the city; the Clean Air Zone is one such example. It is now operational; making a greener Birmingham a better place to live and work.
Undeniably, major sporting events such as the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics benefit their host cities enormously whilst taking place. This will be especially true for Birmingham in 2022 after suffering from the financial impact of the pandemic.
Firstly, the Commonwealth Games will bring visitors back to the city, filling up the city’s hotel beds and allowing tour operators and attractions to revive their businesses. This will allow the creation of new jobs in tourism and other related sectors and inject much-needed cash into the local economy. Now that vaccination is fully underway, we will be able to do this more safely than ever before.
Secondly, the games will help raise the profile of the UK’s second city and allow it to claim the recognition it deserves. It has long been a thriving multicultural hub with a multitude of culinary, cultural and historical attractions and finally can be recognised as such. Again, this can plant the seed for future economic success whilst also supporting the tourism marketing strategies currently in place.
Thirdly, sporting events encourage more investment in areas such as transport and communication which not only benefit the local population and economy but also remain in place afterwards. This raises living standards for all, creating more housing, jobs and prosperity for all.
We only need to look back at the London 2012 Olympics and the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002 to see that the benefits may not always be sustained over the long term.
London, for example, thrived during the run-up to the Olympic games and shortly afterwards. The building of Olympic Park helped to regenerate the East End, new railway lines were laid down and as previously mentioned, the city benefited financially. Although the benefits continued shortly after the games came to a close, growth stagnated.
As a 2017 report from the London Assembly’s Regeneration Committee shows, “…while the Games provided an initial focus for new investment activity, it was short-lived and resulted in mainly physical and economic gains. The gap in many quality of life indicators between the six host boroughs and the rest of London (known as ‘convergence’) is not being closed. The gap in terms of sporting or physical activity rates has got worse too.”
It could have all been so hugely different. Manchester has continued to boom since they hosted the Commonwealth Games almost twenty years ago. After a difficult post-war period and significant unemployment, the city witnessed a 41% growth in jobs in the years between 1991 to 2019, highlighting the power of these sporting events.
Birmingham is now in the process of laying down a long-term strategy for success. To do this it needs to lean on excellent leadership, visionary businesses, and those with the drive to push for economic revival.
By coming together as a city, we can make this happen. At the time of writing, the signs are good. The local economy is heading in the right direction, and the wide distribution of investments means that the city is more likely to deliver a 2022 Commonwealth Games experience that creates a lasting legacy that benefits everyone.
By making these savvy investments to support both visitors and the local population and
Having confidence in what our beautiful city can offer, we can ensure that Birmingham seizes the opportunity that lies before it.
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