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The economics of the Games. Is it worth it?

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In 2018, the Birmingham Organising Committee paid £25 million to the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) for the right to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Millions of taxpayers’ money has and will be spent on the Games, but the key question is: is it worth it?

The Games will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the Midlands’ economy, affecting everything from employment to tourism. A study by the CGF found that hosting the competition has consistently provided an economic boost of around £1 billion for previous host cities along with a variety of social and environmental benefits. The 2014 Commonwealth Games had a global audience of around 1.5 billion and over 500,000 visitors came to Glasgow. This level of exposure helps showcase the host city to tourists and investors. The report revealed that the Games have led to an increase in tourism of up to 25% in the three years after hosting.

The Games will also create many employment opportunities. Andy Street, West Midlands Mayor and Old Edwardian, stated “We are already benefitting – the Commonwealth Games are expected to create an average of over 4,000 jobs per year in the run-up to 2022. Economically, we are winning long before the first medal is presented.”

Moreover, it is estimated that the Commonwealth Games have allowed 6,500 businesses to enter Birmingham to help deliver the event. Wider benefits include reduction in crime rates and promotion of diversity.

Several building projects were put in place for the games including a £72 million revamp of the Alexandra Stadium and a new £73 million aquatics centre. Initially, there were plans for a £500 million athletes’ village in Perry Barr, but due to the pandemic, athletes will no longer be accommodated at this site. However, the residential scheme to deliver 5,000 homes for people in this area is still going ahead. New transport infrastructure projects include a £50 million renovation of the University railway station as well as a new £88 million cross-city bus route.

The Games will require considerable funding, but, based on the overall effects seen in previous host cities, it will be a worthwhile investment. It is also important to note the unquantifiable benefits of hosting the Games, such as raising the profile of a city. Following the difficulty of the past 18 months, the Games will unite people after the restrictions of the pandemic. Hopefully, the Games will leave a lasting legacy and the Midlands will reap the economic benefits of the Commonwealth Games for years to come.

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