Birmingham has been confirmed as the host city for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Louise Martin, president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, made the official announcement at a press conference at the Arena Academy in the city on Thursday morning.
The Games, with an estimated budget of £750million, were last held in the United Kingdom in Glasgow in 2014 while Manchester also hosted in 2002.
The Games were originally given to Durban in 2015 but the South African city was stripped of them earlier this year after financial difficulties.
A new bidding race came down to a head-to-head contest for British government backing between Birmingham and Liverpool, which was won by the West Midlands city in September.
But despite being the only city to submit a bid by the Commonwealth Games Federation’s (CGF) deadline of the end of September, Birmingham had to wait nearly three months to have its victory confirmed.
First, the CGF extended the deadline for bids until the end of November, saying Birmingham’s bid was “not fully compliant”, and then a second delay was announced earlier this month as the CGF sought further guarantees from the city and government.
It is understood the delays were a result of the CGF being concerned about some of the conditions attached to the government’s offer to finance 75 per cent of the estimated £750million budget and the city council’s plans for raising its share.
The CGF is also understood to have wanted more options than Birmingham – if only to give it some leverage in negotiations with the city – but putative bids from Canada and Malaysia failed to materialise.
With recent problems involving disputes with female council staff and refuse collectors over pay, there have been concerns raised about Birmingham’s ability to pay for the Games but it is understood the council has given guarantees to both the government and CGF.
One plan understood to be on the table is a hotel tax, which would see visitors to the city pay a small levy on their bills. This would be the first such tax in the UK.
The formal announcement now enables the council to press on with securing the land it needs for the athletes’ village in Perry Barr, one of the city’s northern suburbs.
Also home to the Alexander Stadium, which will be expanded to host the athletics events and ceremonies, it is hoped that Perry Barr will be transformed in the same way east Manchester was revitalised by hosting the Games 15 years ago.