With three years to go until the official opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games on the 27th July, Birmingham 2022 announced its commitment to organising a ‘Games for Everyone’, that enables the city and the West Midlands to take advantage of the most significant opportunity it has ever had to showcase the region to a global audience.
And to provide a taste of what’s to come in 2022, as well as unveiling the new brand and vision for the Games, a free community festival of sport, culture and food – the Commonwealth Social - saw thousands of residents coming together with Team England athletes, local business and community leaders, and Games representatives, to celebrate the countdown to the Games.
The event included a series of live performances from regional dance and musical groups and the chance to try Commonwealth cuisine, thanks to local street food traders from Digbeth Dining Club. Budding young sports stars were also be given the opportunity to take part in demonstrations, receiving advice and encouragement from 15 Team England athletes, including five Commonwealth gold medallists: boxer Galal Yafai, netballer Ama Abgeze, para athlete Katrina Hart and gymnasts Dominick Cunningham and Alice Kinsella.
In 2022 the Games will see 6,500 athletes from 71 different nations flocking to Birmingham and the West Midlands, to rewrite the region’s sporting history but Birmingham 2022 is already proving to be a catalyst for transformation across the West Midlands, attracting new investment and funding, creating jobs and apprenticeships for local people and new opportunities for local businesses, as well as accelerating projects that will ensure the region is ready to host a world-class celebration of elite sport and dynamic and innovative culture.
Ian Reid, Birmingham 2022 chief executive officer, said: “In three years’ time, millions of people from across the globe will join us in celebrating the opening of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, which is why it will provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to truly put this city and vibrant region on the map.
The idea behind the Commonwealth Social event is that we wanted to celebrate this major milestone and to give people an indication of what to expect in three years’ time, when the eyes of the world will be focused on Birmingham and the West Midlands region.
Just like the Games, sport is at the heart of the event, but Birmingham 2022 will also be a showcase for everything that’s great about this region; the culture, the food and, most importantly, the people that live here. We’re creating the Games for everyone and we’re already collaborating with local people to help make that vision a reality.”
The setting for the Commonwealth Social, Birmingham’s newly redeveloped Centenary Square, is just a stone’s throw from Arena Birmingham, the venue for gymnastics during the Games and local gymnast, Team England’s Dominick Cunningham, was delighted to attend the festivities.
Dominick said: "It's so exciting that it's three years to go until the Commonwealth Games come to Birmingham, my hometown. Competing for Team England in Australia last year was an amazing experience and to get to do that again in front of a home crowd full of all of my friends and family would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m not stopping now, I want that gold for Birmingham!”
With the Alexander Stadium set to redeveloped ahead of the Games, Birchfield Harrier para athlete Katrina Hart would relish the prospect of competing on her home track in front of a packed home crowd in three-years-time.
Hart said: “It’s every athlete’s dream to compete at a Commonwealth Games, I’ve been really fortunate to be able to compete at two [Delhi 2010 and Gold Coast 2018].
“It would be amazing to compete in front of a home crowd. Obviously I’ve trained at Birchfield Harriers and just to be on that home track would be really super special.”
Commonwealth Games England chairman, Ian Metcalfe, said:
“As a born and bred Brummie, it’s great to see local Team England athletes and members of the community coming together to show their excitement for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and to celebrate the three years to go milestone.
Three years may seem like a long time, but we all know how quickly that will come around and we can’t wait to have the Games here on the home turf of Birmingham and the West Midlands. For our athletes to compete with the passionate backing of the nation roaring in the crowds will be an incredible experience and we’re looking forward to being with them every step of the way during these next three years.”
With so many people gathering together, the Commonwealth Social was identified as the perfect opportunity to introduce the new Birmingham 2022 brand, which was co-created with people from the region through a series of roadshows, workshops, focus groups and conversations held last autumn and winter.
The brand connects key West Midlands destinations - many of which will host events during the Games - bringing their locations together to create a truly unique ‘B’ shaped design.
Commonwealth Games Federation President Dame Louise Martin said: “With three years to go to the Opening Ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the excitement is already palpable.
“Preparations are well underway for the delivery of a spectacular multi-sport event for the people of Birmingham, the West Midlands, England and the Commonwealth.
“Launching the new brand on this special day will also ensure the identity of Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games lasts forever.