Birmingham 2022 bids farewell after 11 spectacular days of sport and unity

Global TV audiences, capacity crowds and record-breaking sports performances among the highlights of the fully integrated Games 09 Aug 2022
A banner reads 'Together' as post-war Birmingham is recreated onstage during the 2022 Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony.
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games were a fully integrated sports event with a shared medal tally for non-disabled and disabled sports.
ⒸAlex Livesey/Getty Images
By Mary Barber | For the IPC

“TOGETHER” was emblazoned on a giant chimney in the centre of the Alexander Stadium in front of 4,500 athletes from 72 nations and territories at the spectacular Closing Ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games on 8 August.

The neon sign shone out as a reminder of how inclusive these fully integrated Games had been for the disabled and able-bodied athletes who competed alongside each other for 11 days and who were now celebrating together as the world watched on.

There had been 19 sports and eight Para sports - the most ever – and the medals the athletes won were combined in their team’s overall tally. 

Capacity crowds at every venue, along with a global TV audience, witnessed outstanding athleticism, skill and courage in the West Midlands city in England.

There was also a feast of firsts with three world records broken in the Para sports. These included Australian swimmer Katja Dedekind's women’s 50 metre freestyle S13 race, Goodness Chiemerie Nwachukwu's throw in the women’s discus F42 class, and fellow Nigerian Alice Folashade Oluwafemiayo's collecting 155 points in women’s Para powerlifting 86 kg class.

Birmingham's vibrant history and culture lit up the stage during the Closing Ceremony. @Alex Livesey/Getty Images

As Birmingham said goodbye to the athletes, the Games organisers promised that their legacy will live on.

“Every Brummie, every volunteer, every single Commonwealth athlete is helping to write a new chapter in our history,” said Dame Louise Martin DBE, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, at the Closing Ceremony.

“The legacy of Birmingham 2022 is now yours for the taking. The incredible spirit of these Games will continue through your actions, your pride and your humanity.”

Cultural spectacle

The theme of pride rang loud in the stadium for the vibrant, multicultural host city. To the cheers of the 30,000-strong crowd the athletes danced and sang to the high-octane, high-energy music, from the singing legends Birmingham has produced over the generations. 

Dexy’s Midnight Runners, UB40, Goldie and Beverley Knight belted out their hits along with Jorja Smith, Apache Indian and The Selecter.

There was a series of sets championing the region’s cultural heritage, from tributes marking Wolverhampton’s ‘80s street art scene to the legendary Broad St music venue Rum Runner and how it inspired music and fashion globally, along with the working-class people who helped to build the city, and the hit global TV drama Peaky Blinders.

Retired Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds spoke at the Closing Ceremony of the fully integrated Games. @Alex Pantling/Getty Images

More than 1,000 performers moved across the vast multi-level, multi-stage, industrial building, which was designed to reflect the production lines and factories of the West Midlands. Birmingham is one of the seats of the Industrial Revolution and has traditionally been known for its iron and steel industry. 

Martin Green, chief creative officer of Birmingham 2022, said: “It’s been overwhelming to see how the whole UK has embraced these Games and the incredible sporting and cultural talent on display. 

“From the love for our Bull [the city’s mascot], to the thousands down at our festival sites, this has been a summer like no other, in one of the best cities in the land.”

Next stop: Australia

The Commonwealth Games flag was ceremoniously lowered during an emotional performance from Birmingham-based singer songwriter Jacob Banks. It was handed to Dame Louise Martin and then on to Linda Dessau, the Governor of Victoria in Australia where the next Games will be held in four years’ time.

Indigenous Australian leaders gave a carved message stick to Dame Louise before performing a culturally significant smoking ceremony. A group of contemporary dancers then moved to a video backdrop that showcased the art, culture and beauty of the Victoria 2026 host cities.

Victoria, Australia will host the next edition of the Commonwealth Games in 2026. @ Alex Davidson/Getty Images

There were also musical performances from Australia’s Proud Yolngu man, Danzal Baker, known as Baker Boy; Taylor Henderson and the multi-award-winning singer-songwriter Vanessa Amorosi.

Prince Edward closed the Games on behalf of the Queen, but the curtain did not come down until the “Brummie” heavy metal rock legend Ozzy Osborne and his band Black Sabbath blasted out their hit "Paranoid". The stadium erupted with cheers. 

Fireworks lit up the night sky as the athletes partied below. It will be four years before they are together again at the next fully integrated Commonwealth Games.