Martin set to retain CGF presidency, Birmingham on track for 2022 Games

Louise Martin is set to secure a second term as president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, while CGF officials have expressed their confidence in Birmingham’s preparations for the 2022 edition of the multi-sport event.

The CGF has confirmed that Martin will stand unopposed for the presidency at the Federation’s general assembly in Kigali, Rwanda on September 3-6.

The Scot was elected president of the CGF in Auckland, New Zealand in September 2015 when she became the first female to hold the position in the history of the Commonwealth Sports Movement. She defeated incumbent president Prince Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja’afar of Malaysia in a vote.

In addition to the elections, the CGF said the general assembly will see a refreshed Transformation 2022 strategy approved. However, a decision to award a host city for the 2026 Commonwealth Games, expected to be announced in Kigali, will take place next year with the CGF stating “positive dialogue” is continuing between the Federation and potential hosts cities.

Meanwhile, the CGF has expressed its confidence in Birmingham’s preparations for the 2022 Games, despite an official budget not yet in place for the English city’s event. The CGF Coordination Commission concluded a two-day visit to Birmingham last week.

On what was their second visit to the West Midlands city, the CGF Coordination Commission (CoCom) conducted site visits to key venues for the Games including the Athletes’ Village in Perry Barr, where construction is underway, and the Alexander Stadium, which is set for a £70m (€78.6m/$88.1m) investment to transform it from its current capacity of 12,700 to up to a Games-time capacity of 40,000.

Heading into the visit, CGF chief executive David Grevemberg had stated there is a sense of “urgency” surrounding preparations for the multi-sport event. While this sentiment was echoed by the visiting party, they had a broadly positive outlook on Birmingham’s progress for an event it stepped in to host after the 2022 Games were removed from Durban in March 2017.

CGF CoCom chair Chris Jenkins said:“We have been really impressed with preparations for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and feel that the Organising Committee is in very good shape.

“We could clearly see a very strong collaboration between all the partners working on the event and that bodes very well for the athletes, coaches and support staff that we will see at the Games. There is also a strong emphasis on community engagement which will help showcase the many long-term benefits for the people of the region.

“The big challenge remains time and there is no time to lose given the shortened window Birmingham have had to prepare for the Commonwealth Games compared to other host cities. With just over three years to go, getting everything ready in record time will remain a challenge but the Commission has every confidence that the partnership will deliver a fantastic Games in 2022 for the West Midlands.”

However, one of the key issues remains the budget for the Games. Initial projections put the cost at £750m, with the UK government expected to contribute three-quarters of the financing and local partners contributing the remainder.

While confirmation of the true figures is yet to be disclosed, officials expect imminent news on this. “We were hoping it would all be signed, sealed and delivered but sadly it hasn’t been yet,” Jenkins added, according to the Birmingham Mail newspaper.

“There is a huge amount of investment going on in Birmingham and the region that the Games has unlocked which is seriously impressive. The budget is with central government. It’s ready to come as far as I can tell. We are reassured but basically it hasn’t arrived yet. I don’t think there is any particular hold-up. We were told it is due so it could be within the next few days.”

The CoCom is scheduled to conduct its next visit in December.