Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games CEO Ian Reid says the extensive preparations for the event are coming together well, while demand for tickets is reassuringly strong.

With the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games now complete and a fantastic summer of sport well and truly behind us, the focus is quickly switching to looking ahead to next year and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, which will be held from 28 July until 8 August, will sit right at the heart of a busy summer of sport.

With 72 nations and territories set to compete and the biggest sports programme in the history of the Games due to be delivered, Birmingham 2022 will be the largest multi-sport event to be held in the UK for a decade.

The sports programme includes 19 different sports and has eight integrated para sports – more than ever before at a Commonwealth Games. In total we will host 286 sessions of sport in 14 venues which are located in Birmingham, the wider West Midlands region and beyond.

“The countdown clock is ticking loud and clear, but we’ll be ready to stage a magnificent event and I for one can’t wait for the Games to begin.”

For the first time ever at a Commonwealth Games that sports programme will include women’s cricket T20, basketball 3×3 and wheelchair basketball 3×3 and Birmingham 2022 will also make history by becoming the first ever major multi-sport event to award more medals to women than men, something which we are very proud of.

Our venues include fantastic established facilities like the NEC, Arena Birmingham, Edgbaston Stadium and the Coventry Stadium, beautiful parks like Sutton Park in Birmingham, St Nicholas Park in Warwick, West Park in Wolverhampton and Victoria Park in Royal Leamington Spa and we will also be creating a hub for the Games in the centre of Birmingham at Smithfield, the city centre site which will stage the beach volleyball and basketball 3×3 competitions.

We also have two important capital projects included in our venue portfolio and I’m pleased to report that the construction of the brand-new Sandwell Aquatics Centre and the redevelopment of the Alexander Stadium is progressing extremely well. Both are on budget and on schedule and it is amazing how much progress has been made in the last eighteen months, given the backdrop of a global pandemic.

It’s been a busy but exciting few months for the Birmingham 2022 team as we recently completed our volunteer recruitment campaign, attracting 41,000 applications for 13,000 roles and we’ve delivered two major ticket ballots. In total we’ve had more than 225,000 applications for tickets, demonstrating the clear appetite that exists to once again fill the stadiums at a major multi-sport event.

Birmingham 2022 will be a celebration of culture and creativity, as well as a celebration of sport, and we recently announced the creative team that will oversee the Opening and Closing ceremonies at the Games and it will be led by executive producer, Steven Knight, the creator and writer of Peaky Blinders, and by world-renowned theatre director Iqbal Khan who is the artistic director.

In September we also provided more details about the Birmingham 2022 Festival, six months of extraordinary creativity across the West Midlands which will begin in March 2022 and wrap around the Games, helping us to reach and inspire even more people.

At the start of October, the Queen’s Baton Relay was launched at a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace, and the baton began its journey around the Commonwealth. In just nine months’ time it will be back in Birmingham, so the countdown clock is ticking loud and clear, but we’ll be ready to stage a magnificent event and I for one can’t wait for the Games to begin.

This article was published in the November edition of Access All Areas. Read it here, and/or subscribe for free here