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Birmingham Commonwealth Games the 'best attended' UK games ever, say organisers

The Commonwealth Games in the West Midlands was "beyond expectations" and is the best-attended edition of the competition in the UK, chiefs have confirmed.

Goldie and Beverley Knight perform on stage during the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony. Photo: Tim Goode/PA Wire
Goldie and Beverley Knight perform on stage during the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony. Photo: Tim Goode/PA Wire

Sports chiefs confirmed over one-and-a-half million tickets were sold for the 11-day event and thousands more turned out to support passing athletes on the streets.

Meanwhile the Alexander Stadium had packed crowds for both the opening and closing ceremonies, the latter of which saw Beverley Knight and Goldie perform.

And the BBC has revealed its coverage was streamed a record-breaking 57.1 million times during the event, six times the amount of streams seen in previous years.

Around 28.6m people watched this year’s Games on BBC TV in total, with the highest peak being 6.6m ahead of the men and women’s 100m backstroke and breaststroke finals on day 3, followed by the Opening Ceremony, which had a 5 minute peak of 5.2m viewers.

It comes as leaders hailed the competition, the sixth held in the UK, for being an "absolute triumph on so many levels" and something the region would build on in the future.

Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Katie Sadleir said: "I think the Birmingham Games have been spectacular. Overall it has been an outstanding success.

"If you think about some of the challenges that were in front of it from a Covid perspective, from a Brexit perspective, from a strikes perspective, it has absolutely gone beyond expectations in terms of delivery.

"When I've walked down the streets in Birmingham, it's been like Disneyland on steroids."

The event drew to a close on Monday and has been a riot of colour and excitement throughout. As well as some stellar performances from the athletes, the warm welcome of volunteers and local residents will live long in the memory of those who covered the games.

The event's mascot, Perry the Bull, has been a huge hit with younger spectators and the opening ceremony's Raging Bull has been surrounded by people taking photos after it was moved to Centenary Square in the centre of Birmingham.

Organisers did encounter difficulties in the run-up to the games, such as the decision to abandon plans for a single athletes' village at Perry Barr, but out of that the multi-village model has been proven to work successfully.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street added: "The Commonwealth Games has been an absolute triumph on so many levels – a stunning sporting spectacle, a wonderful celebration of culture and a moment of tremendous unity across our diverse communities. The spectacular closing ceremony shared our story, our values and our history with the world.

"Like so many others, I can honestly say I’ve never felt more proud to be a Brummie so a huge thank you to everyone who made this happen."

West Midlands Ambulance Service scheduled over 23,000 hours of ambulance time throughout the Games, including 1,766 made up of 770 on ambulances and 226 commander shifts.

They were also supported by 160 shifts in the control room, 60 vehicle preparation operative shifts preparing up to 60 ambulances and 27 cars each day and 40 shifts in the National Ambulance Resilience Unit.

They were only called on to help 166 patients, of which just 83 were taken to hospital.

Anthony Marsh, the trust's chief executive, said: "This has been a hugely successful event that has placed Birmingham and the wider West Midlands in the spotlight for all of the right reasons. My congratulations to the organising committee for putting on such a well-run event.

"I want to pay tribute to the hundreds of staff who gave up their time off with their families to come and work during the Games. You have done an amazing job helping to keep the huge crowds safe.

"I am immensely proud of everything you have done to show what a wonderful city Birmingham is and indeed the wider West Midlands and what it has to offer.

"You have interacted with the public and the Games family on a daily basis and shown what a fantastic career the ambulance service has to offer and for that I am immensely grateful."

Councillor Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council, said the city had welcomed over a million visitors from across the world and praised people for being so welcoming.

Penning a letter to residents, Mr Ward said: "Well, that was quite something, wasn’t it? Over these past two weeks we have welcomed over a million visitors from across the world to our city, and I would like to thank each and every one of you for giving them the best welcome imaginable.

"Watching the opening ceremony at the Alexander Stadium was one of the best moments of my life. I felt so proud of our city, of what we have achieved in hosting the Games, and of the welcome that we gave the world.

"And in the days that have followed, that feeling of pride has only increased. And didn’t the city look incredible? The colour and vibrancy of the sporting venues, our beautiful architecture, our tree-lined streets, our historic canals and our sunny blue skies all contributed to a party atmosphere like nothing this city has seen before."

Mr Ward said the city had "delivered the best Commonwealth Games ever" and had put on the best party "this city have ever seen" as he praised the volunteers who made the event possible.

"I believe that in decades to come we will look back on the games as the moment that Birmingham took a huge step forward, and I can’t wait to see what the years ahead have in store for our city," he added.

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