As we say goodbye to 2022, an historic year for the Commonwealth Sport Movement, it is fitting that we reflect on what made this year so special.
This time last year Birmingham 2022 was on the horizon, the excitement was well and truly building for the Commonwealth to come together after years apart due to the pandemic. Fast forward to today and I am so proud of what was achieved during these Games. Selling 1.5 million tickets, the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games was the most well-attended Games ever staged in the UK.
From the iconic ‘Raging Bull’ to the legendary Ozzy Osborne, it was simply spectacular. The largest ever sports programme saw 4,822 athletes from our 72 countries compete, with an incredible 43 of these winning medals, including the first ever for Niue. Over 11 vibrant days, four World Records and 96 Commonwealth Records were set.
Importantly, the Games was also a catalyst for positive change thanks to several landmark firsts. Starting with the introduction of Women’s Cricket T20, Basketball 3x3 and Wheelchair Basketball 3x3. It was a joy to witness the buzz of activity and excitement which surrounded these sports throughout the Games.
May I add, with our commitment to a fully integrated sports programme, we witnessed 350 para-athletes compete across 44 medal events, the greatest number at a Commonwealth Games. A personal highlight was seeing GAPS athlete Goodness Nwachukwu from Nigeria set not one, but two World Records in the F42 Discus event.
Last but by no means least, for the first time in any major multi-sport event, more medals were awarded to women than men. This increase saw a 4% rise in the number of female athletes compared to those at the Gold Coast.
In a new venture for Commonwealth Sport, a fresh digital approach was introduced to the Games to ensure a more engaging and accessible service for our stakeholders and fans. With 9.7 million users recorded on the Commonwealth Games website and app, as well as 154 million impressions across social media, it is amazing that anyone interested in the Games and the wider Movement can now be part of it wherever they are.
In February 2022 our Athlete’s Advisory Commission unveiled their Athlete Advocacy guiding principles, as a result, Birmingham 2022 will be known forever as ‘The Games for Everyone’, providing a safe space for athletes and teams to share their beliefs freely.
The Games have left a legacy that will ensure Birmingham 2022 will be remembered for many years to come, including state-of-the-art legacy facilities at the Alexander Stadium and Sandwell Aquatics Centre. The Games created 40,000 jobs and volunteering opportunities, unlocking £38 million of investment to support more people becoming physically active. A further £21 million of government investment cemented the profile of the city and region as a sporting hub, highlighted by Birmingham’s selection as host city for the European Athletics Championships in 2026.
2022 brought so many positives, including celebrating our Patron Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. However, it is tinged with great sadness following her death in September. As I reflect in awe and admiration on her unwavering service to the Commonwealth, I will always look back fondly on the many exchanges we shared across the years.
Turning to 2023, there is much to look forward to, as it promises to be another busy and thrilling year.
Our sights are firmly set on the return of the Commonwealth Youth Games in August. Trinidad and Tobago will welcome 1,500 young athletes and team officials to their shores following the postponement of the Games in 2021. The Organising Committee is working hard to deliver the best Youth Games yet, with seven sports on the programme: Aquatics, Athletics, Cycling, Netball, Rugby Sevens, Triathlon and Beach Volleyball.
Following a successful transfer of knowledge between Birmingham 2022 and Victoria 2026 Organising Committees, the 23rd Games is already promising to be an exhilarating edition, with the introduction of Golf and Coastal Rowing to the sports programme, in addition to the return of Shooting. The countdown to Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games is well underway. What a Games we have ahead of us!
Finally, as this year draws the Transformation 2022 strategy to a close, 2023 sees the start of our new approach. Having consulted widely and collected the perspectives of a range of stakeholders including CGA’s, International Federations and fans, I am really excited to see the strategy unveiled to you all and being brought to life in the coming years.
2022 has truly been a year for celebration. A year when we could all be together in person again and had the privilege of seeing our shared values of humanity, equality and destiny in action. With so much excitement in store, I have no doubt that the positivity of 2022 will continue into 2023.
I would like to thank each and every one of you most sincerely for your help, support and contribution to the successes experienced this year, without which, none of this would have been possible.
I look forward to seeing you all again at the Regional Meetings.
Happy New Year to you all and enjoy time with your families
See you soon
Dame Louise Martin
Commonwealth Games Federation