The first teams from across the globe have arrived in Birmingham ahead of the Commonwealth Games. With two weeks still to go until the sporting extravaganza gets under way, team members from some of the 72 nations and territories set to take part have turned up early.

Birmingham Airport confirmed a few sporting squads had already touched down on British soil ahead of the fortnight countdown, and the terminal frontage has had a pink and purple makeover ready to welcome the early arrivals. BHX is expecting more athletes to arrive sporadically in the build-up to the Games’ starting ceremony on Thursday, July 28.

Birmingham 2022 said some teams may be arriving ahead of time to participate in pre-Games training camps, but added that the official arrival of competitors doesn’t happen until next week. Around 6,500 athletes and team officials are set to descend on the city for what is set to be the biggest ever sports programme in Commonwealth Games history.

More than 1.2 million tickets have already been sold for the 11-day sporting extravaganza – and organisers are confident they’ll exceed the 1.3 million ticket sale tally for Glasgow in 2014. The likes of Dame Laura Kenny, Adam Peaty and Dina Asher-Smith will be competing as nations go head-to-head across 286 sessions.

To help provide the sports stars with a uniquely Brummie welcome, a special ceremony will be performed by local students and theatre professionals at the three designated campus villages located across the region. The performances will showcase the city’s heritage of dance and cuisine, and share stories that have inspired the people that make Birmingham their home.

Meanwhile, Birmingham Airport said preparations had been “full steam ahead” for the start of the Games. The airport has ramped up its recruitment efforts while airport police will be increasing their officer numbers for the duration of the event.

With the worldwide spotlight now turning to Brum, the airport said “we’re as ready as we’ll ever be”. Head of corporate affairs, Simon Evans, told BirminghamLive: “Some of the athletes are already starting to arrive now so it’s full steam ahead for the Commonwealth Games.

“It’s expected to bring thousands of people to Birmingham and, although they won’t all be coming through Birmingham Airport or arriving in one go, there has been a lot of preparation involved. We’ve recruited additional staff including security officers and front of house customer service staff and we’re now at 95 per cent of where we need to be.

“We have our Commonwealth Games hoardings up outside the airport so we look the part. We’ve also put up wayfinding signposts throughout the airport to ensure a smooth and efficient journey for our arrivals from the moment they step off the plane.

“In recent weeks, we have proven that we can handle these kinds of numbers, even on busier days. There’s still room for improvement when it comes to customer experience, but we are getting there.

“We want to run a slick operation and be unremarkable for all the right reasons. We want the Games to be the story and for this to be a wonderful moment for our city. People have been working really hard and I’d say we’re as ready as we’ll ever be.”

Source: Emily Collis