Birmingham’s bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games has been officially backed by the government.
The cost of staging the event is expected to be at least £750m – which would be the most expensive sports event in Britain since London 2012.
Birmingham beat Liverpool earlier in September as Britain’s candidate city.
The West Midlands city could still face competition from rival bidders – Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Victoria in Canada and a potential Australian entry.
Submissions from candidate cities need to be received by Saturday and the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) is expected to make its decision later in the year.
Announcing Birmingham will be the UK’s official candidate city, Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said the government believes it would provide value for money.
“The Commonwealth Games in Birmingham would be brilliant. It would showcase the best of Britain to the world and make the entire country proud,” said Bradley.
Durban originally won the bidding process in 2015, but the South African city was was stripped of the event in March because it did not meet the criteria set by the CGF.
|Recent Commonwealth Games hosts|
|1998: Kuala Lumpur||2010: Delhi|
|2002: Manchester||2014: Glasgow|
|2006: Melbourne||2018: Gold Coast|
There have been doubts over whether the Kuala Lumpur and Victoria bids will go ahead, while Australia could submit a late application, although with the Gold Coast hosting the 2018 event, it is considered unlikely to be awarded consecutive competitions.
“There are continuing discussions with potential hosts in England, Canada, Malaysia and Australia,” said CGF chief executive David Grevemberg.
“At its board meeting in Sri Lanka on 5 and 6 October, the CGF executive board will receive an update on the current status of the 2022 selection process. We anticipate that the collaborations will continue thereafter and a final decision on the host city for the 2022 Commonwealth Games is expected by the end of the year.”
Birmingham’s proposal to create the UK’s largest permanent athletics stadium, supplemented by four indoor arenas, is central to its bid.
Reaction to Birmingham bid
Sports minister Tracey Crouch: “There’s always been a boost to the local economy from hosting the event and what you do see is a strong legacy both in terms of participation but also use of the venues after the event.
“So I think this is a real opportunity for Birmingham, a real opportunity for the West Midlands and a real opportunity for the UK to showcase itself as hosting these major international events across the world.”
West Midlands mayor Andy Street: “I want there to be a brilliant sporting occasion, of course that must be first. But there’s two other very important things that we want to achieve. 2022, post-Brexit, we want to show the world that Britain is open for business.
“I want this – and so many of our citizens have links with the Commonwealth countries themselves – to demonstrate that this is the place where the world comes together and we’re building a very inclusive society here.”
Birmingham is now in pole position to secure its first ever global sports event and become the third British city since 2000 to host the Commonwealth Games. They may not even face a rival bid and be handed it by default.
Despite the bitter bin dispute continuing to hang over the city, and the need for further budget cuts, local authorities will need to raise 25% of the overall cost of staging the Games. Organisers insist essential services will not be affected, and that the event will prove great value for the West Midlands, showcasing a diverse and youthful community, and leaving a sporting and economic legacy.
And after London 2012, Glasgow 2014, and recent world championships in rugby, women’s cricket and athletics, Britain is now set to organise yet another major sports event. A reminder of the importance the government now places on hosting sport as a platform for trade and tourism as the country prepares for Brexit.