Olympic vision pays off for Birmingham

By on 19/02/2010 in News

Mike-WhitbyCity Council Leader Mike Whitby believes Birmingham is in pole position for 2012 Olympic glory because work to land Usain Bolt and co got underway four years ago.

The deal to bring Jamaica's track and field athletes to Birmingham ahead of the London Olympic Games will be formally signed on Saturday (Feb 20).

That means both the Jamaicans and USA Track and Field will fine-tune their Olympic preparations in Birmingham before bidding for gold medal glory in London.

The two deals are worth an estimated £15 million to the Birmingham economy and Cllr Whitby, who personally took charge of negotiations with Jamaican officials at the World Athletics Championship in Berlin last year, said: “This is another major coup for the city of Birmingham.

 “We had the vision in 2006, as the first city to realise the potential of making the 2012 games an event for cities across the UK. Now in 2010 I am delighted that we have shown the determination to see it through.

“We have achieved formidable success as, underpinning our reputation as the UK's sporting city, Birmingham will bring the world's fastest athletes (Jamaica) together with the world's most successful track and field Team (USA).

“The move will no doubt enrich our cultural relationships with America and Jamaica, as well as enriching our own diverse communities, many of whom have strong links back to the Caribbean.

“Not only will this signing enhance our reputation as a global city, it will create a significant boost to the local economy - with conservative estimates suggesting the economic impact of the USA and Jamaican teams will exceed £15m.”

Jamaica's athletes will be based at the University of Birmingham and Director of Sport Zena Wooldridge added: “There's already a real buzz at the University and I think this deal offers a great opportunity of a real connection between Birmingham and the Olympic Games.

“Initially this has been driven by Birmingham City Council and the contacts they have built up over many years through hosting major sporting events.

“In this particular case I think the University was a very strong and obvious partner in terms of the range of facilities that we have on what is a very nice, leafy, green campus.”

The Jamaica and USA deals mean many of the world's top athletes, backed by an army of coaches, support staff and officials, plus friends and family will be spending the Olympic Games build-up in Birmingham.

Cllr Whitby, Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association President Howard Aris and University of Birmingham Vice Chancellor and Principal David Eastwood will sign the deal at Birmingham's Crowne Plaza Hotel on Saturday (Feb 20) at 10:30am.

The trio and selected Jamaican athletes (names tbc) will then be available for interviews and photographs.

ENDS

For more information contact Geoff Coleman on 0121 303 3501

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  1. Steve Edwards says:

    As an ordinary citizen of Birmingham who pays his council tax and expects, in return, his rubbish to be collected and his street to be lit and cleaned how will having a load of athletes living here for about 2 weeks in 2012 affect me. Will you reduce my council tax, will you give me free tickets for the Olympics or maybe even clean my street more often. Having the Olympic teams here will cost me money because my Council Tax will be used to pay for ‘Receptions, Accommodation and all the other freebies they will get’. How many people in this City, or even country know where the british Team stayed at the last Olympics and how many people have visited it.

    • geoffc says:

      Steve

      The Jamaica and USA deals combined are estimated to be worth around £15million to the Birmingham economy. The benefits will be felt by our hotels, restaurants, shops etc.

      There will also be a massive media spotlight on the city that will market Birmingham to a worldwide audience.

      The competition for high profile teams in 2012 has been fierce, because the potential benefits to the host cities are so great.

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