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With World Games 2022 Over, Birmingham Leaders Take Victory Lap

From left: Birmingham City Councilors Valerie Abbott, Carol Clarke; President Wardine Alexander; Mayor Randall Woodfin; Pro Tem Crystal Smitherman and Councilor Hunter Williams. (Amarr Croskey, For The Birmingham Times)

By Ryan Michaels

The Birmingham Times

On Tuesday, less than two days after the end of The World Games 2022 (TWG 2022), Birmingham city officials took a victory lap.

Hosting an event the magnitude the size of The World Games “isn’t easy,” said Mayor Randall Woodfin.

“It’s a massive, massive undertaking. But when I think about all our community partnerships, the way our residents came out and filled stadiums and attended events, how our volunteers spent hours away from family and friends just to make sure our guests were accommodated – that’s what makes me proud,” Woodfin said, in a statement.

“Our city came together when it mattered most. It’s the unity for me,” he added.

Sandwiched between the Opening Ceremony on July 7 and the Closing Ceremony on July 17 at Protective Stadium were 34 sports consisting of 58 disciplines and 223 medal events involving 3,600 of the world’s best athletes.

The mayor said TWG 2022 made the world “believers” in Birmingham.

“Birmingham belongs on the big stage…Birmingham is positioning itself to be a major sports destination in our region and the past 11 days shows that the Magic City can offer a first-class experience,” Woodfin said.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Councilor Carol Clarke said the success of the Games is due to the efforts of everyone throughout the city.

“I want to echo all the sentiment and thanks to the city team, and just everybody in the city of Birmingham, including the residents who sacrificed, . . . for a few days during the World Games, and I feel like we really pulled together as a team,” she said.

Councilor Hunter Williams said the participation of 3,300 volunteers shows the dedication of everyone in and around Birmingham.

“The fact that we, as not only the city of Birmingham, but really our entire metro area, came together, and we put this on specifically at the sites and scanning tickets, things like that, by all volunteers, I think that really shows [that] the city all came together for one common thing, and we executed it, and we executed it very well,” Williams said.

Council President Pro Tem Crystal Smitherman said she is proud of the people of Birmingham. “Everybody was so positive, and you saw so much hope…I hope we can keep that same spirit and energy going, moving forward, and that shows, really to ourselves, that we can handle big events…The Magic City Classic doesn’t have to be the biggest event that we do every year,” Smitherman said.

Council President Wardine Alexander focused on the Birmingham that international visitors saw during the Games. “When we reflect on the World Games, let’s think about the positive image that we gave to people all around the world, and when you talk about Southern hospitality, we talk about the hospitality of the Magic City. I’m just excited for the 3,600 athletes that had an opportunity to come here and see Birmingham, and see it at its best,” Alexander said.

While The World Games wasn’t perfect, it has shown that Birmingham can handle what’s to come, said the Council President.

“Of course there are things we could have done better. There are things that could have been accomplished easier, but we can learn from this, and as we move forward to the other events that we know that are coming upon us, we just had an opportunity these past 11 days, I want to call it the Magic City Classic on steroids . . .” Alexander said.

City leaders attended some of the events not in their official capacity but as fans.

Woodfin said the sports on display were too exciting to narrow down to one favorite. “I’m a sports fan, so I loved the opportunity to check out competitions that I otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to. Sumo was incredible. Muay Thai? Intense. Sports climbing was a blast too,” he said.

Councilor JT Moore also highlighted sumo as one of his favorites.

“By far, sumo wrestling was one of the coolest things that I’ve had an opportunity to watch. It got real intense out there, and I think that everybody who was able to be there felt that energy . . .” Moore said.

The councilor added that he hopes that same energy can be used for the city to build on the momentum from TWG 2022.

Updated at 10:07 a.m. on 7/20/2022 to correct attributions.