CEO Ian Reid Confident 2022 Commonwealth Games Will Go Ahead

Dive Tower 2
Sandwell Aquatics Centre: Photo Courtesy: Birmingham 2022

Birmingham 2022 CEO Ian Reid is confident the Commonwealth Games will go ahead in front of capacity crowds in Birmingham, England.

The Games are scheduled to run from 28 July – 8 August next year in the midlands city but questions are already being asked as to whether spectators will be able to attend or even if the multi-sport event will be staged at all because of the pandemic.

To mark the completion of the 10m dive tower at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre where the swimming and diving will take place, Reid was joined in a virtual press conference by Chris Jones of Birmingham City Council and Team England diver Robyn Birch who won silver at the 2015 European Diving Championships.

Reid told reporters:

“We are still very confident that the Games will go ahead next year. I’ve been in a number of meetings recently that had senior regional and central government representation on them and everyone’s fully planning to deliver a Games with full-capacity stadiums and full capacity live sites in the summer of 2022.

“We clearly have the benefit of being 18 months away. We also have the benefits of watching how other events evolve and of course we’ve got a close on Tokyo and others as the year goes on.

“It would be remiss of us not to be looking at all the scenarios and in particular we have got a dedicated team in place making sure that when the Games go ahead they go ahead in as safe a way as possible to make sure we get athletes and officials into the country safely and spectators can enjoy the sport and the cultural programme safely as well.

“Everything I hear and everything that’s happening in my team and across the partnership is focused on delivering the Games in 2022 as we originally envisaged and we’re still confident we can do that.”

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Photo Courtesy: Birmingham 2022

Social-distancing measures have been rigorously enforced at the construction site including temperature testing, two-metre markings on the pathways and additional welfare facilities so people can safely enjoy their breaks.

Twice-weekly flow testing will be introduced from next week and while acknowledging the measures have affected the construction schedule, Jones’ emphasis was on the safety of the workforce.

He said:

“We are on target to deliver the project on time.

“Health and safety is always paramount on a construction site anyway but the additional measures that we’ve put in place to make sure the operatives are safe has been our primary concern during the pandemic.”

Construction on the £73million project started in January 2020 and is scheduled to be completed in spring 2022 after which the venue will be renosed as a community facility comprising a 50m pool, a 25m diving pool, community swimming pool and permanent seating for 1,000 people, with additional seating being brought in for the Games.

Jones said the facility was “usable for all” catering for a range of requirements including single-sex and private sessions as well as being fully wheelchair accessible.

Diving Into The Action

Dive Tower 2

Photo Courtesy: Birmingham 2022

The dive tower, which took five weeks to build, includes 31 separate English-made, concrete pieces weighing 233 tonnes in total.

The structure is 12m high and took 2000 hours to build.

The diving competition will see men and women compete in the 1m and 3m springboard events and the 10m platform event, as well as the 3m springboard and 10m platform synchronised events.

For the first time ever at a Commonwealth Games, there will also be mixed synchronised 3m springboard and mixed synchronised 10m platform diving included on the programme.

Birch competed at the Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, in 2018 where she finished eighth in the 10m platform and fifth alongside individual bronze medallist Lois Toulson in the 10m synchro.

The 27-year-old – who finished one place outside the medals in the mixed 10m synchro at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju with Noah Williams – spoke of the benefits she envisaged from competing in front of a home crowd.

“I haven’t had the opportunity many times to compete in front of a home crowd but there was a World Series competition that was held in London.

“In terms of comparing it to international competitions – just having that support of the home crowd was completely different to anything I had ever experienced.

“I think just having everyone behind you and that kind of motivation and just that feeling that everyone is willing you to do well.

“I think at that competition pretty much all of our divers did very well if not a personal best. I truly believe that home crowd really helped support everyone.”

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Noah Williams: Photo Courtesy: Birmingham 2022

Williams won silver alongside Matthew Dixon in the 10m synchro at the 2018 Games – one place behind their fellow English divers Tom Daley and Dan Goodfellow.

He said:

“The dive tower looks so impressive, as does the whole Sandwell Aquatics Centre – it is going to be a fantastic facility to compete in and there will be lots of divers across the Commonwealth who will be really excited to see this phenomenal progress.

“Seeing the completed dive tower means that you can now start to visualise what it would be like to compete at Birmingham 2022 and I’m sure that come Games time the atmosphere inside that venue will be absolutely unreal, especially with a home crowd to support Team England.”

Nigel Huddleston MP, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, said:

“The Aquatics Centre is really taking shape and the new dive tower is another important milestone in this exciting build.

“The Centre will be a spectacular stage for our home nation swimmers and divers, and an important sporting legacy for the people of Sandwell.”

 


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