‘Maximum capacity’ crowd plan for Commonwealth Games

A ‘maximum capacity’ crowd is being planned for the Commonwealth Games despite growing concerns around the Omicron Covid variant, it has been announced.

Up to date picture of the revamped Alexander Stadium. Photo: Birmingham City Council
Up to date picture of the revamped Alexander Stadium. Photo: Birmingham City Council

Speaking at a meeting of the council’s cabinet, leader of the council Ian Ward confirmed the council was still expecting a ‘full spectator event’ next summer.

Preparations for the Games have been ongoing ever since Birmingham was chosen as the replacement venue for the 2022 Games back in 2017 after Durban was stripped of the event.

However, the outbreak of Covid has caused several delays to works, with organisers forced to scrap the the use of the Athletes Village in Perry Barr.

Many of the Covid restrictions which saw work delayed on various Games projects have since been lifted, although the emergence of the new Omicron variant could mean new measures are imposed.

Testing of the Covid-19 variant in South Africa showed Omicron contains an unusually high number of mutations compared with the original strain, including 32 on the spike protein, which most vaccines target to prime the immune system against the virus.

The government has reacted by speeding up the roll-out of booster vaccines, with all over-18s now eligible to book their jab in an attempt to halt the spread of the variant.

More than a million spectators are expected to visit Birmingham and the West Midlands for the Games, with the 2018 Gold Coast Games attracting similar numbers.

Councillor Ward says the city is still preparing for ‘maximum capacity’, while also highlighting some of the transport infrastructure that will be in place by the start of the Games.

“Despite everything that’s going on with the Omicron variant, we are currently preparing for a full spectator event with maximum capacity in venues around Birmingham and the wider Birmingham area,” he said.

“The Games of course are a unique opportunity to create a transport legacy of increased sustainability, improved public transport infrastructure and reduce dependency on private car journeys.

“The Games has been a catalyst for schemes such as Sprint and the A34 works associated with the Perry Barr regeneration scheme, along with the redevelopment of Perry Barr University and Rail stations."

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