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With just one week to go, Birmingham 2022 opened their largest athletes village today so we could have a sneak peek. The campus at the University of Birmingham’s Vale Village is an alternative to the originally planned Perry Barr village which sadly will not be completed on time.

Athletes from across the Commonwealth will be moving in from today and final preparations are being put in place. We were given a tour of the site before its official guests arrived, and got a glimpse at bedrooms, gyms, entertainment hubs, dining halls and more.

When they arrive, Games competitors will be greeted to a special welcome ceremony, designed to help them settle into the West Midlands and make them feel looked after. Not expected to be tied to their rooms during their stay, there are several pop-up tents across the village which provide a range of activities for athletes living in Birmingham during the 11 days of the Games.

The entertainment hub is one of them with table tennis courts, foosball tables and Jenga in the tent to keep athletes occupied and give them some much-needed down time.

There are also fun events planned for them, including acoustic guitar sessions, dance performances and jewellery. One particular highlight will be police puppies visiting athletes several times a day for much-needed cuddles, which the sportsmen and women requested themselves.

The entertainment hub at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games athletes village
The entertainment hub at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games athletes village

There is also a huge dining area. With countries visiting from around the world, the athletes village dining area needed to include a diverse mixture of foods. Whilst food was not available to view on our day of visiting, the titles of each section showed a mixture of cuisines.

The athletes dining area at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games athletes village
The athletes dining area at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games athletes village

Pasta, eggs, rice, live grill, bread, yoghurt, fruit, cereal and international breakfast are among some of the sections located at the athletes dining area. There will also be street food stalls in place for those looking for a quick bite.

Once athletes have enjoyed their entertainment and eaten their fill of delicious food, they will be able to get some sleep inside the village. Located in traditional student accommodation, athletes have their own bedroom, bathroom and a shared kitchen during the Games.

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A polyclinic is also on site which will cater for athletes’ health during the Commonwealth Games. A Pride House tent is also located within the athletes village, providing athletes a safe space during their stay in Birmingham.

Birmingham 2022 has worked with UK guidelines regarding Covid-19. Athletes have been advised to test before travelling and will be tested before they arrive into the village.

Making sure athletes stay at the peak of their performance, a gym has been installed inside the village with a range of equipment to cater to each athlete’s needs. A recovery area has also been installed which gives them the chance to cool down with an ice bath.

The gym at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games athletes village
The gym at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games athletes village

Head of Games family services for Birmingham 2022, Ashwin Lokare will be looking after the participating 72 Commonwealth associations and supporting their preparation for the Games. Ashwin is working in his fourth Commonwealth Games and spoke about how things are shaping up ahead of athletes turning up tomorrow.

“We’re looking forward to the Commonwealth Games. I think the athletes being here in the village changes the atmosphere and makes it more real,” he said.

“Athletes going into training, athletes getting prepared, athletes talking about their own preparations on other events, I’m relaxed. But I’m looking forward to it.”

Source: Robson McCallister

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