Birmingham 2022 organisers insist they are ready to welcome athletes here despite being faced with a “quick turnaround” to get accommodation in place for the Commonwealth Games.
The number of athletes arriving from the 72 nations and territories from across the Commonwealth is expected to ramp up over the coming days as the three Athletes’ Villages get set to open their doors.
Accommodation at the University of Birmingham is due to officially open tomorrow, marking another key milestone in the build-up to the Games that are scheduled to start in exactly a week’s time.
Around 2,800 athletes and officials are expected to be housed at the University of Birmingham, with 1,600 residing at the NEC Hotel Campus and 1,900 at the University of Warwick.
After students vacated the premises at the end of the academic year, organisers quickly moved in to prepare the site for athletes.
Dining halls, food stalls, a gym, recovery areas and a merchandise store have all been installed in temporary structures next to the University of Birmingham student halls.
There is also an entertainment hub where athletes can participate in silent discos and Bhangra dancing, as well as workshops in jewellery making and face painting.
Athletes are due to staying en-suite rooms with Birmingham 2022-branded bed covers and towels.
“It has been a quick turnaround,” said Ashwin Lokare, head of Games family services for Birmingham 2022.
“But as you can see we are ready to go and welcome the athletes from tomorrow.
“As with any Village that I have been involved with in the past there have been challenges but there has been so much positive feedback from the teams and we are really looking forward to the athletes being here.”
Unlike previous Commonwealth Games, athletes will be located across three Athletes’ Villages instead of one.
The move came after plans for a sole Athletes’ Village in the Perry Barr area of the English city were ditch in August 2020 due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lokare claimed that the multi-site model had been met with “positive feedback” from all Commonwealth Games Associations (CGA).
“It has been a challenge but we have worked with a lot of CGAs over the past two years,” said Lokare.
“We have had regular conversations with the CGAs in making sure that they adjust and accept that we are in a three-Village solution to come up with their own ideas.
“Everyone gets an opportunity to brand their location.
“When you go around you will see that some CGAs who are already here have started doing that with flags and branding to make sure that it is a home away from home for their athletes.”
Lokare said ensuring athletes were close to their competition venue was the primary principle in making selections for the different Athletes’ Villages.
The Birmingham 2022 official added that the size of the delegation had also been considered with some countries sending very small teams.
“All the CGAs will go through a team welcome ceremony when they are officially welcomed into the various Villages,” added Lokare.
“In the past, you have seen New Zealand respond with the Haka so we hope they do the same here.
“People always call it the ‘Friendly Games’ and it couldn’t be more right for the Commonwealth Games.
“When teams get together, they muck in and help each other when it is required and it is a really fun atmosphere for the athletes.”
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games are scheduled to begin next Thursday (July 28).