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Liverpool sets the bar high for World Gymnastics Championships

A report into the success of the World Gymnastics Championships 2022 (WGC2022) has highlighted the legacy of the event and its lasting impact on the city’s young and old residents.

The independent study into the Championships, which took place in the M&S Bank Arena from 29 October to 6 November 2022, has found that as a result of the event, by 2024, around 3,000 youngsters will have been directly involved in gymnastics thanks to 47 schools accessing in-person, coached taster sessions. 

Liverpool care homes are also feeling the afterglow as 11 people have become ‘Love to Move’ instructors (part of a British Gymnastics programme), and will work with people with dementia. Another 12 are currently being processed and will also work with care homes and in community settings across the city. 

The WGC2022 was also a hit with its volunteers, inspiring 30 of them to gain national coaching and personal development accreditation and will now work with four gymnastics clubs across the city. 

As well as the legacy felt by the city, the report also underlines Liverpool’s credentials as one of the world’s leading event cities.  

WGC2022 is found to have generated a massive £5.6 million for the local economy, welcoming 35,406 spectators who on average spent £249.47 per person and booking 25,033 bed nights throughout the Championships.

When analysing the audience, 82 per cent of attendees came from outside of the Liverpool City Region, with 60 per cent staying overnight. Overseas visitors made up 8 per cent of the visits and for nearly 11,000 people it was their first visit to Liverpool. 

Other stand-out highlights were:

  • The Official Fan Zone – a first for the event – welcomed 18,704 visits from both ticketed and non-ticket holders.  
  • Liverpool schools benefitted from 47 pre-event coached taster sessions – 43 primary, three secondary and 1 SEND school, with more than 13,000 gymnastics 
  • To be accessible to all, 38 schools and 13 community groups attended the event as spectators. An allocation of 1,779 were complimentary tickets, with a focus on deprived wards. 
  • When it came to volunteering, 406 volunteers contributed a total of 15,646 hours. Looking at location, 38 percent came from the Liverpool City Region, and for 21 per cent it was their first-time volunteering. When looking at the equal opportunities element, 20 per cent of volunteers came from diverse ethnic communities, and more than 40 had an accessibility or health condition.​ Based on their positive experience, 94 per cent expressed an interest in receiving information on other volunteering opportunities after volunteering at the WGC2022​.
  • In order to be as sustainable an event as possible, 97 per cent of spectator tickets were e-tickets, digital screens were used instead of printed materials and rainwater was harvested to support reusable water usage. 
  • WGC2022 was broadcast in 29 countries, with a total of 753 hours and 46 minutes air time. 
  • In an event first, British Sign Language Interpreters provided nonstop sign language interpretation throughout the competition on screens in venue, and sensory rooms and accessible shuttles were provided.
  • The first Our Safe Sport Symposium took place during the Championships and looked at a worldwide approach to safeguarding and athlete welfare in gymnastics took place which it is hoped will become integral to future Championships.

And as well as Liverpool’s outstanding achievements, Great Britain surpassed their best-ever World’s medal haul with an incredible six medals and saw both the men’s and women’s teams achieve automatic qualification to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games – the only nation to do so. 

After the Championships, the International Gymnastics Federation President, Morinari Watanabe hailed the event saying “The Beatles created a new music scene. Liverpool World Championships turned gymnastics from sports to entertainment this time. It is the start of the new gymnastics scene.”

And its success has been recognised by the industry as well, the Championships has won Best Sports Promoter at the Event Production Awards; Highly Commended in the Best Visitor Experience category and shortlisted in the Diversity and Inclusion category at the Access All Areas Awards; shortlisted in the international Sports Technology Awards for Event of the Year and won Silver at the international Eventex Awards in the Best Sports Event category.

Chair of the WGC2022 board quote Claire Lewis said:

“Hosting this event was a huge sporting coup for Liverpool that made the city, the sport and the Championships proud.

“We delivered what we committed to as a Board – a world class sport and entertainment experience that was deeply connected to the City of Liverpool. Feedback from all those involved has been overwhelmingly positive – the gymnasts praised the venue and the facilities, the spectators were treated to world-class talent and gymnastics and the volunteers came together to form a unique team who gave the warmest of welcomes to visitors. Engagement in schools and in care homes has embedded a legacy that will provide benefits way beyond the Championships themselves.

“The World Gymnastics Championships has set a benchmark for future world class sporting events that are impactful and accessible and I’m delighted to have led the Board throughout the delivery of this event.” 

Head of Major Events at UK Sport, Esther Britten said:

“Hosting major global sporting events here in the UK provides the opportunity for extraordinary sporting moments that reach, unite and inspire the nation. We are absolutely delighted that everyone who competed, attended and worked at WGC2022 had such a fantastic experience, it is testament to the strong partnership between ourselves, Liverpool and British Gymnastics.

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