The Commonwealth Games Federation is confident the 2022 Birmingham CWG will go ahead as scheduled next year despite the host city’s council leader’s recent expression of doubts in view of a surge in COVID-19 cases in the UK.
The Commonwealth Games are still 18 months away and Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward last week said “we can’t be certain” that the Games will go ahead amid concerns over the emergence of new coronavirus strains.
The council leader of nearby town Walsall, Mike Bird, has also expressed concerns over the staging of the Games and has called for contingency plans.
But the CGF remains unfazed with its chief executive David Grevemberg saying that the Games, scheduled to be held from July 28 to August 8, are not under any threat.
“The CGF is confident that the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will be hosted and that it will play a significant role in the post-COVID19 pandemic recovery of the UK,” Grevemberg said in a statement to PTI.
“With more than 18 months to go before the Games Opening Ceremony, we will continue to monitor, evaluate and adapt to the evolving global situation, working with government at all levels, NGOs and other major events owners,” he added.
He said the stakeholders have established multi-disciplinary teams at the local, national and intergovernmental levels to deliver the Games.
“As part of our rigorous and thorough approach to planning and delivery of an event of this magnitude during this moment in time, the Birmingham 2022 partnership has established dedicated multi-disciplinary teams that are connected to policy and medical advisors at local, national and intergovernmental levels to support our efforts.”
The United Kingdom has recently seen a rapid surge in COVID-19 cases and fatalities with the emergence of a new strain of the virus. The situation, though, seemed to have got slightly better in the last few days and a mass vaccination programme is currently underway.
Concerns over the hosting of the Games emerged after Ward admitted at the West Midlands Combined Authority Board meeting that it was difficult to predict the fate of next year’s CWG.
“We can’t be certain what is going to happen going forward — indeed, the Olympic Games that were postponed to the summer of this year are now looking in some doubt again, so we can’t be certain,” said Ward.
“Who knows what will happen next? There may be another variant to the virus and we may all be back to square one.
“But I’m going to take an optimistic view and optimistically look to the future and the hosting of the Commonwealth Games, as a benefit not just for Birmingham but for the whole of the region.”
Grevemberg is, however, hopeful that the vaccine and other preventive measures will ensure the 2022 CWG remains on schedule.
“With preventive measures such as COVID-19 vaccines now being rolled out globally and plans to accelerate their accessibility being implemented by many countries, we are reassured, but not complacent,” he said.
“… our priority remains to ensure they (Commonwealth athletes) have the safest and optimal environment to perform at their highest competitive level.”