European Athletics Championships to take place in Great Britain for the first time ever
It’s not been long since the Commonwealth Games were in Birmingham but some of the world’s best athletes will be returning once again to the city in four years’ time.
This is because Birmingham has been awarded the 2026 European Athletics Championships.
The withdrawal of the bid from Budapest, host city of the 2023 World Athletics Championships, meant that Birmingham now has a chance to build its legacy from the Commonwealth Games in a similar, albeit scaled down, fashion to London hosting the World Athletics Championships five years after the 2012 Olympics.
Since the turn of the century Great Britain has hosted the Olympics (2012), World Championships (2017), three Commonwealth Games (2002, 2014, 2022), two World Indoor Championships (2003 and 2018) – about to be three in 2024 – and two European Indoor Championships (2007 and 2019).
However, it has never hosted the outdoor European Athletics Championships, the 27th edition of which will take place in 2026.
British athletes enjoyed huge success at the most recent event in Munich and Great Britain finished second to Germany in the final athletics table with six gold, six silver and eight bronze medals.
Golds came from Keely Hodgkinson, Laura Muir, Matthew Hudson-Smith, Zharnel Hughes and the men’s 4x100m and 4x400m teams.
According to The Guardian, it looks likely be a standalone event, unlike the multi-sport bonanzas which were staged jointly between Glasgow and Berlin in 2018, then Munich this summer.
UK Athletics’ CEO Jack Buckner said: “We are delighted and honoured that we have been awarded the privilege of hosting the European Athletics Championships in 2026 in Birmingham. It is wonderful news for athletics and benefits the whole of the UK in demonstrating our ability to host major events across the whole country.
“UKA has held a long time wish to deliver this event and we thank European Athletics for its faith in entrusting us with its most important competition.
“Our vision for the Championships is about record breaking ticket sales and an amazing atmosphere for athletes to be inspired inside and outside the stadium. We have promised to deliver an amazing, innovative and game changing Championships, and we’re excited we can now put this plan into action!”
Councillor Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “We are honoured and privileged to be asked to be the first-ever UK hosts of the prestigious European Athletics Championships in 2026.
“Over many years we have demonstrated we are a city that can proudly host major events of this type and scale – and the people of Birmingham and indeed the entire nation have proven time and time again their huge appetite for sport, especially athletics.
“The Alexander Stadium is beyond all doubt the premier athletics facility in the country and we cannot wait to welcome the elite of European athletics for this event, which will also bring a range of benefits for local communities and our economy beyond the programme of track and field activities.”
Sally Munday, CEO of UK Sport, said: “I’m delighted that the UK will be welcoming Europe’s best athletes to Birmingham in 2026. Hosting the European Athletics Championships will be a fantastic opportunity to build on the legacy of the Commonwealth Games earlier this year and I know the British public will get behind the athletes and create a brilliant atmosphere in the Alexander Stadium.
“We’ve seen throughout 2022 the significant economic and social benefits of hosting big sporting events in this country and hosting this mega-event will deliver huge benefits for the city of Birmingham, the West Midlands region and the whole of the United Kingdom. It’s also important to recognise that our continued ability to deliver the very best global sporting events is thanks to the ongoing support of The National Lottery.”
Sports Minister Stuart Andrew said: “It is fantastic that Birmingham has been chosen to host the first European Athletics Championship on British soil. The city is perfectly placed to put on the event following record-breaking ticket sales for a brilliant Commonwealth Games earlier this year.
“I look forward to seeing Europe’s elite athletes descend on the West Midlands and the Government will continue to work closely with UK Sport, UK Athletics and Birmingham City Council to host another hugely successful event.”
For those interested in hearing first about tickets and wider opportunities to get involved in the championships, register here.
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