Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games: Helping to build trust and deliver sustained outcomes

Sharing Birmingham 2022’s ambition of being a catalyst for change in the Midlands region, we were proud to support the Games by providing professional services to help the organisers deliver the Games.

Be bold, be Birmingham

Delivering on our purpose at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

For 12 days, Birmingham relished hosting the Commonwealth Games, as well as an international celebration of creativity across the West Midlands. As a city, it showed off its personality, diversity, music, arts and culture to the world, as well as the ability to host one hell of a party.

Boasting the largest integrated para-sport programme in history, over one-and-a-half million tickets were sold to see around 5,000 athletes from 72 Commonwealth nations and territories take part. From Adam Peaty to Issy Wong, Jess Pugh to Lee Manning and Delicious Orie, the Midlands’ local heroes lit up the international stage - as did the incredible volunteers and staff who made this event possible.

“The team at PwC were excited to play a part in helping to deliver the biggest sporting event to happen in the UK for a decade. It provided an adrenaline-filled short-term boost of ‘Games-time’ in the heat of the summer, giving the elite athletes, organisers, supporters and visitors to Birmingham and the region a great experience. Our activities have shifted rapidly post-Games, focussing on the near and medium-term attraction of capital and investment. This will drive inclusive growth to benefit our communities, reaffirming to the UK and the world that the Midlands is a great place to visit and invest in.”

Matthew Hammond,
UK International Markets Leader, Midlands Region Leader & Birmingham Senior Partner, PwC UK

PwC supported the Games as both the Official Supplier of Professional Advisory Services and a corporate sponsor. In the past a ‘sponsorship’ like this may have been based largely on corporate hospitality, but Birmingham 2022 has always been about more than just the events and ticketing. Our motivation for supporting the Games was the opportunity to deliver on our purpose to solve important problems, to do things differently, and strive for new standards in areas like sustainability, accessibility, inclusion and diversity, and ultimately create sustained outcomes for the whole Midlands region.

Colleagues and clients were encouraged to enter the priority ballot for residents to get their tickets, and take part in the Games as either a volunteer and/or to draw on their professional skills and experience to assist the success of the Games. (Watch our video series to find out more).

“Our support was based on a shared ambition of bringing people together for a greater purpose and notably being a catalyst for change in the region. We believe the region has a huge untapped potential that Birmingham 2022 will help to unlock and turbocharge the region's growth ambitions.”

Sarah Moore,
Head of People and Organisation, PwC UK

Birmingham 2022 in numbers1

How hosting the Games has benefitted Birmingham


Commonwealth nations took part (representing 2.4bn citizens)


Over 1.5 million tickets sold


Of people in the UK said they watched, followed or participated in the Games


Public funding to help drive regeneration across the region


Jobs and skills opportunities created, incl. 14,000 volunteer roles

6 in10

People in the region believe the Games improved the perceptions of the city

The Commonwealth Games is responsible for bringing more than just jobs to the city, it can deliver long-term economic and social benefits to the whole area. To maximise the economic legacy of the Games, the official Business and Tourism Programme (BATP) was launched to promote the West Midlands and the UK as a leading destination for tourism, trade and investment. Part of the BATP activity included the delivery of the Commonwealth Business Forum and an extensive programme of professional events hosted at UK House during the Games. 

City leaders' ambition was that “the Commonwealth Games will kick off a ‘golden decade of opportunity’ for the city.” Our latest Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities Index of economic wellbeing discussed how, while Birmingham has had a great record attracting inward investment in recent years, it is also important to ensure that growth in the city is sufficiently inclusive for a city with a young and growing population.

“I believe this event will be one of the greatest and most important editions of the Commonwealth Games in our 92-year history. After such a difficult period, when we could not be together in person, this is a special and emotional moment where we can unite to celebrate the unique power of sport.”

Dame Louise Martin

Dame Louise Martin,
President of the Commonwealth Games Federation. (CGF press release)

Opening Ceremony Day

Against all the odds

A passionate community of solvers working together at Birmingham 2022

The B2022 Organising Committee (OC) is one of the fastest start-up - shutdown organisations we have ever worked with, with an innovative structure and stakeholder model unlike any UK major sporting event - and one that would become subject to a variety of never-before-experienced challenges.

Birmingham had originally planned to bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games. However, in March 2017, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) announced Durban would no longer host the Games in 2022, and reopened the bidding process. Birmingham announced its bid to host and in a short period of time, began to put plans in place. PwC was appointed as professional services advisor to the OC in October 2019, to provide a range of assurance services, specialist support and technical advice for both the planning and delivery of the Games.

With a shorter lead time, delivering an event of this magnitude would bring complexity - and then the pandemic struck. What would the Games look like if there could be no spectators? How would supply chains and the ability of other strategic partners to deliver be affected?

Our COVID-19 response team helped the OC prepare for a variety of scenarios ahead of the event launch in July 2022, including the potential impact on athlete journeys, commercial contracts and the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay (which needed to be safely transported through 54 countries!). Other plans like a single Athletes' Village at Perry Barr had to be quickly adapted, to be replaced by a multi-village model with support from local universities and businesses - which proved to work successfully. This team became a key part of the OC’s operational planning.

“Cyber security posed a material risk to the delivery of the Games. Our role was not solely about providing detection and response services, but working in partnership to deliver a shared outcome; sharing intelligence with the Organising Committee, its ecosystem and law enforcement to ensure the delivery of a safe and successful Games.”

Peter Trapp

Peter Trapp,
Director, Cyber Security, PwC UK

Numerous other projects were undertaken to keep the show on the road, deliver the Games safely and protect the overall legacy of the Commonwealth Games. This included a wide variety of teams and specialists from our risk assurance, cyber security, and sustainability teams. While our cyber security team worked to keep the Games safe 'virtually', our work with the OC around security and stewarding supported the delivery of a physically safe Games.

“How many events have ever faced such adversity in the build up? Arranging any major sporting event of this scale and importance will always be a huge challenge for any Organising Committee, its partners and supporters, but I’m proud of how everyone stepped up to help deliver the event safely.”

Alison Breadon,
Lead Client Partner for B2022, PwC UK

A modern way of delivering a Games

Building trust

Sport has the power to shine a light on important issues. The CGF recognised the importance of demonstrating the value of hosting that is internationally recognised and quantifies the impact of a Games across a range of economic, environmental, social and governance (ESG) measures.

In a time of macroeconomic uncertainty, the demand from the public on governments to demonstrate greater transparency on how they spend public money, the need for host cities to develop a clear and comprehensive view of costs, investments and associated benefits of short and long term value, has never been such a high priority.

Before the Games, we developed the Games Value Framework that was aligned with the CGF’s impact themes of peace, sustainability and prosperity to guide prospective host cities on how to assess the anticipated costs and benefits of hosting the Games. We identified the critical success factors that influence how the city can maximise the value in hosting a Games, and its legacy.

“We were able to support the Organising Committee to build a comprehensive sustainability and ESG programme which is both ambitious and credible.”

Burak Kaplanoglu

Burak Kaplanoglu,
Director, Sustainability, PwC UK

Embracing ESG

Implementing a coherent ESG strategy is perhaps the most visible way of focusing on long-term value. The sustained benefits to society in terms of social and environmental outcomes are clear, but there are also incentives for businesses and their stakeholders.

For example, a key addition to our support for the Games was on a growing area of focus for business and society - Modern Slavery - helping the Games to bring its ESG commitments to life through a planned programme of supply chain human rights assesments. We worked with the OC's suppliers and providers, both overseas and in the UK, to assess and respond to potential risks in areas like workforce exploitation - looking across its complex global supply chains to put human rights front and centre of its sustainability pledge.

“Importantly, there is an ESG imperative. We believe this is the decade for action. The Games’ ambition was to create a carbon neutral legacy, and we’re delighted to have been playing our part in that.”

Carl Sizer

Carl Sizer,
Head of Regions and Platforms, PwC UK

Significantly, the PwC Sustainability team supported the creation of the Games' end-to-end sustainability strategy, to deliver a comprehensive ESG programme, including the ambition to deliver a carbon neutral legacy. This also involved an experienced senior secondee from PwC joining the organising committee.

Two of the standout initiatives, sponsored by Severn Trent, the Games’ Nature and Carbon Neutral partner, being delivered on behalf of Birmingham 2022 include the creation of 2022 acres of new forest, as well as 72 tennis-court-sized tiny forests (each one linked to one of the nations and territories that competed), to be built in urban areas across the Midlands. The games took a reduction first approach to carbon management and the 2022 acres of forest will also help offset the unavoidable carbon emissions generated by the Games.

Global sporting events have a huge impact on the environment, the question lately is whether organisers of major events are doing enough. Carbon offsetting, for example, can be controversial, with some campaigners saying it can be a barrier to long-term behavioural change. Birmingham 2022 set a very high standard and set the tone early in terms of what could be achieved and the way it can be measured and reported. We believe Birmingham 2022 is probably doing more than many other major events have, and has been conscious of the need to avoid any perceptions of greenwashing.

“The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games committed to deliver ground-breaking ambitions including the largest integrated para-sport programme in Commonwealth Games history, a carbon-neutral legacy, extensive social value through its procurement programme and the first multi-sport event to have more medals for women than men. These commitments bring new risks which have required expertise, focus and fresh thinking.”

Ian Reid

Ian Reid,
CEO, Birmingham 2022

A better Games, a safer Games and a new model for the future?

Delivering sustained outcomes beyond Birmingham 2022

B2022 Basketball

Large scale sporting events happen regularly, but in the world of major events, it’s surprising that very little corporate infrastructure, systems and learning seem to be passed on each time. When one event finishes, everything stops and disappears, until the next one, when everything is reinvented again.

There are a number of common reasons why organisers and hosts may not always get legacy planning right, including time pressures, lack of accountability or stakeholder engagement. Recent history has taught us that ‘legacy’ can no longer be empty words or a line in a sales pitch, it needs to be a real commitment to sustained investment in the right places. Instead of the more abstract concept of 'legacy', organisers need to consider 'social impact', something we believe can be more easily measured.

Talking about sustainability, social value or being purpose-driven without thinking about the impacts on our planet or failing to put in place the necessary reporting will only further erode trust in businesses or governments. Organisations must recognise the value of having an authentic purpose and building trust by cooperating with a broader stakeholder group including their local communities.

In an episode of our Business in Focus podcast, joined by Head of Inclusion and Engagement for Birmingham 2022 Donna Fraser OBE, we discussed how often ‘where sports leads, business follows’. The Games has not only created a showcase for sporting talent and the cultural vibrancy of its host city, but worked to place diversity, inclusion and accessibility at the heart of everything it does.

“As a Paralympian myself, I believe it is worth reflecting on what integration means for Para sport and the society. Limitations still exist, but the legacy of improved access and attitudes towards people with disabilities is likely to benefit the wider host community in the long term. I think many lessons can be drawn from the Games’ integrated model by different organisations for their inclusion and diversity policies.”

Vladyslava Kravchenko

Vladyslava Kravchenko,
Sponsorship Project Manager, PwC UK

In supporting these events, businesses can also use them as an opportunity to reinforce their social values and purpose for their people and communities.

As part of our sponsorship activation we made value commitments to our communities, external stakeholders and our own people. Volunteers committed thousands of hours for environmental volunteering and community engagement projects, as well as health and wellbeing initiatives like ‘Move the Nation'. It’s also why we partnered with Pride House Birmingham during the Games and beyond, to provide a safe space for LGBTIQ+ athletes, staff, volunteers, and spectators of sport.

We believe hosting the Games can enable Birmingham to achieve long-term growth, as the city will now begin to have the confidence to build a collective response to their biggest challenges - as well as the blueprint to host future events like the European Athletics Championships (or even a Summer Olympics).

Investing in the areas that matter most, like building capabilities in ESG and cyber security and combining diverse experiences and skills with innovative technology can deliver lasting results that make the difference will only become more important. Together, we can begin to challenge what can be achieved in future Games.


Contact us

Matthew Hammond

Matthew Hammond

Strategic International Markets Lead Partner, Midlands Region Leader & Birmingham Senior Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7725 069181

Alison Breadon

Alison Breadon

Partner, Government and Heath Industries Risk Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7740 894817

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