Birmingham 2022 set to create first as sports programme approved

The Commonwealth Games Federation has today (Tuesday) signed off on the sports programme for the next Commonwealth Games, claiming that the addition of women’s T20 cricket, beach volleyball and para table tennis, but controversial omission of shooting, will make Birmingham 2022 the first major multi-sport competition to feature more women’s than men’s medal events.

The three sports were initially selected by Birmingham 2022 in June, following an Additional Sports Review process that also included archery and shooting. The latter two sports failed to make the cut.

The CGF today announced that the 71 Commonwealth Games Associations voted by the required majority to accept the proposal from Birmingham 2022 to add the three sports to the existing programme.

The addition of women’s T20 cricket will see eight teams compete at Birmingham’s Edgbaston Stadium, one of the main venues for international cricket in England. The decision means cricket returns to the Commonwealth Games for the first time since 1998, when South Africa won the men’s 50-over competition in Kuala Lumpur.

The addition builds on a strong women’s sport programme which, as it stands, will see two more women’s medal events than men’s at the Games – 135 compared to 133. There are currently seven mixed events.

With the confirmed event programme to be announced next year, Birmingham 2022 is expected to surpass the previous Commonwealth Games record for women’s medal events in Gold Coast 2018 by two.

With the inclusion of para table tennis, the Games will have more para sports on the programme at a Commonwealth Games than ever before, with eight now confirmed. Para table tennis will see 32 athletes compete across four medal events at the Games. It will take place at the NEC in the same venue for the table tennis competition.

Beach volleyball joins the sports programme for Birmingham 2022 following a successful Commonwealth Games debut at Gold Coast 2018, where it became one of the star attractions at the Games. A venue for the events has yet to be decided.

CGF president Louise Martin said: “I would like to thank our Commonwealth Games Associations for recognising the benefit that these three exciting sports will add to Birmingham 2022 and voting to include them to the sports programme. We are passionate advocates of women’s sport and para-sport so I am thrilled we are able to make this special announcement.”

Ian Reid, chief executive of Birmingham 2022, added: “We proposed these sports after carrying out a thorough and robust review with some of our partners and it was clear to the review panel that these sports will help us to reach new audiences,  ensuring that we seize this fantastic opportunity to raise the profile of the Games, the West Midlands region and the people that live here.

“We’re also delighted that we’re now able to add Edgbaston Stadium to our list of venues for Birmingham 2022, as it’s truly a world-class facility and a jewel in Birmingham’s sporting crown.”

The initial decision to omit shooting had caused uproar, particularly in India, for which the sport accounted for 16 of its 66 medals at Gold Coast 2018. Indeed, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has threatened to boycott Birmingham 2022 over the matter.

Speaking ahead of today’s announcement, Martin claimed that Birmingham 2022 had offered that two shooting events be staged, only for this to be rejected by the International Shooting Sport Federation , which wanted a full programme.

Bisley in Surrey was deemed the nearest appropriate facility for shooting at Birmingham 2022, and the CGF said it also suggested a “Commonwealth Championships” be held there shortly before the Commonwealth Games.

Martin told UK newspaper The Telegraph that she now intends to meet India’s officials and will also speak to Britain’s new Sports Minister, Nigel Adams. She added: “A sport has to earn the right to be in the Games. Shooting has never been a compulsory sport. We have to work through it but shooting will not be in the Games. We have no space anymore.”