Birmingham is a city known for its youth, diversity and energy. This is why the city was awarded the Commonwealth Games, and why it will put on an inspiring event in 2022.
The Games are a fantastic sporting celebration and Birmingham will play host to some of the finest athletes from across the world in four years’ time. But it will be more than a great festival of sport. It will leave an important legacy and reflect the Commonwealth Games’ core values of humanity, equality and destiny.
Birmingham 2022 will offer equal medal opportunities for men and women alongside a fully-inclusive para-sport programme. And in the spirit of the Pride events happening throughout the country, I want it to be the most welcoming and diverse Games - in the broadest possible sense - yet too!
We are also looking at how we can work with organisations to deliver the Games in a socially responsible way that benefits local people and their communities.
And the benefits of Birmingham 2022 will last longer than two weeks of sporting competition.
Alexander Stadium - the host venue for athletics - will be transformed into a state-of-the-art facility that will be used by the local community well beyond 2022. The Commonwealth Games village will be turned into homes for the people of Birmingham and this major sporting event will inspire more people to get active.
We also have big plans for businesses, including a four-year programme of strengthening opportunities with Commonwealth nations, culminating in a Business Expo.
And I encourage more people to volunteer and be a part of shaping this historic sporting moment in the same way the Games Makers left such an impression at London 2012. Birmingham has an infectious community spirit that will be felt by people from across the Commonwealth when it welcomes them in 2022.
This togetherness was very much apparent as the city stood side-by-side with the Gold Coast at the formal handover ceremony in April - an amazing event which projected Birmingham talent such as Lady Sanity and Amerah Saleh to an audience of over one billion people.
It was also brilliant to be in Birmingham for Team England’s celebration event after the Games in the Gold Coast and see first hand the brilliant reception the people of Birmingham gave the athletes.
Now the baton is firmly in our hands. Government will continue to work alongside the Commonwealth Games Federation, Commonwealth Games England and Birmingham City Council over the next few years as we prepare for 2022.
The UK has an enviable track record of hosting world class sporting events. Aside from London 2012 we have successfully staged the 2017 World Athletics and Para Athletics Championships, 2015 Rugby Union World Cup and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 to name but a few.
Major events have the potential to generate significant economic benefits for the host city and country. And a key priority will be to ensure that these are maximised for Birmingham, the wider West Midlands region and the UK as a whole.
The Games will boost tourism, provide great opportunities to the people and businesses of the West Midlands and give us a chance to show the best of Britain to the world.
All this will leave a lasting legacy which will strengthen future relationships with our friends throughout the Commonwealth and help motivate a generation to get involved in sport.
I encourage everyone in Birmingham and beyond to think about how you could play your part in helping make the most out of what will be a sporting spectacular.
Tracey Crouch is the minister for sport and Conservative MP for Chatham & Aylesford
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