Commonwealth Games chiefs confident in luring stars to Birmingham 2022

Commonwealth Games chiefs hope the lure of an unprecedented “grand slam” will convince stars like Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thompson to commit to competing in Birmingham in 2022.

The knock-on effect of the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics means that the Commonwealth Games now finds itself shoe-horned into a hectic six-week spell which starts with the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, and ends with the European Championships in Munich.

But officials are hopeful that by pushing the start of the Birmingham athletics programme back to August 2 – eight days after the final race in the US – they will ensure the participation of the Games’ biggest names.

Dina Asher-Smith
Dina Asher-Smith

Commonwealth Games chief executive David Grevemberg said: “We have been working on a schedule that will ensure as much rest as possible after the Worlds.

“We are hopeful that this ‘triple crown’ or grand slam approach is unprecedented – there is history that could be made with these athletes being able to make their mark both abroad, at home, on a Commonwealth, global and European scale.”

Birmingham organisers say they have worked closely with World Athletics to maximise the gap between events, and say they have received “encouraging noises” from the likes of Asher-Smith and Johnson-Thompson.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson
Katarina Johnson-Thompson

Birmingham 2022 chief executive Ian Reid said: “We’re speaking to them regularly about the schedule, but also they’re supporting some promotional work. I would hope, touch wood, that both will attend in some capacity in Birmingham.”

Tickets are yet to go on sale for the 11 days of action, and Grevemberg admitted Games organisers may need to “actively address” any uncertainty relating to ongoing coronavirus concerns.

“I’m hopeful as we launch the ticketing programme going into next year that we will be in a place where people are ready to embrace this,” Gravemberg added.

“The certainty level we’re at with the issues at that time, we will have to actively address. But hopefully by 2022 people will be able to make it happen and invest in this event as we all are.”