CGF chief highlights ‘urgency’ for 2022 Commonwealth Games preparations

Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive David Grevemberg has stated there is a sense of “urgency” surrounding preparations for the 2022 edition of the multi-sport event, as the CGF prepares to make its latest inspection visit to the English city of Birmingham.

The CGF Coordination Commission (CoCom) will take to Birmingham on Wednesday and Thursday. It will be their second visit to the West Midlands to look at preparations for the 2022 Commonwealth Games following the first inspection in December.

In December 2017, Birmingham was announced as the new host of the 2022 Games in a move that will bring the multi-sport event back to England for the first time in two decades. Birmingham landed the Games after the CGF in March 2017 removed the hosting rights from Durban amid long-running concern over financing of the event in the South African city.

Speaking ahead of this week’s visit, Grevemberg told BBC Sport: “With this accelerated timeframe there becomes little room for error, which has its risks, but it also has its benefits. You’re not constantly planning and reinventing, you actually have to get on the ground and start making things happen.

“So I think there’s an urgency. Enough urgency that it doesn’t become too scary, but enough urgency that it does mean you need to take definitive action and not constantly try to reinvent the wheel.”

Birmingham 2022 has yet to disclose a final budget for the Games. Initial projections put the cost at £750m (€842.3m/$953.5m) with the UK government expected to contribute three-quarters of the financing.

Birmingham City Council last month started the search for a contractor to deliver the main stadium for the Games. The design and construction contract for the overhaul of Alexander Stadium is expected to be worth £63m. The redevelopment will include expanding the 43-year-old venue’s capacity from 12,700 to 40,000, with 20,000 of these seats to be retained after the Games. The project will establish Alexander Stadium as the largest UK athletics venue outside of London.

There are also concerns over the development of the aquatics centre for the Games, a £60m project that was approved last month by the local Sandwell council despite protests. As the only completely new venue for the Games, there are worries that construction has yet to start.

Grevemberg said: “As far as I know, everything’s going to plan and we’re marching forward, but it is one we need to continue to watch. Obviously when you go into any community there’s going to be people who see this as a great thing and other who see it as more challenging, or not aligned with their ambitions.

“But overall, Sandwell is being seen as something very positive for sport, not just on a world-class level, but on a community relevance level. But we have a definitive delivery timeline, it is a new-build project and therefore it needs to keep progressing and once funding is all ready to go that will accelerate. It’s still deliverable so we’re confident in terms of the approach but it can’t slip.”