Birmingham bid for the 1992 Summer Olympics

The Birmingham bid for the 1992 Summer Olympics and Paralympics was an unsuccessful campaign, first recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on 28 February 1986. Ultimately it lost, having only gained eight votes with Barcelona going on to host the 1992 Summer Olympics. Its failure was due to a number of factors, including a perceived lack of support by the British Government for the bid as well as the international relations that the UK had at the time with South Africa and the United States.

Bids for the
1992 (1992) Summer Olympics and Paralympics
Games of the XXV Olympiad
IX Paralympic Games
Birmingham 1992 Olympic bid logo.jpg
Winner: Barcelona
Runner-up: Paris
Shortlist: Brisbane · Belgrade · Amsterdam
CityBirmingham, United Kingdom
ChairDenis Howell
NOCBritish Olympic Association
IOC score8 votes
Previous Games hosted
Result4th runner up

Bid detailsEdit

Birmingham was selected as the city for the UK bid ahead of London and Manchester.[1] The city had long been described as Britain's "second city".[2] It was led by Denis Howell, former Minister for Sport of the United Kingdom.[1] Howell was a member of the Labour Party, which at the time was in opposition and therefore was not a member of the sitting government of the United Kingdom.[3]

Birmingham's bid was previewed at the Sports Council seminar in Harrogate on 26 February 1986 prior to being submitted to the IOC on 28 February. Howell had returned from touring Eastern European countries to promote the bid in order to conduct discussions with IOC president Ashwini Kumar.[4]


An initial estimate of £500 million was given for hosting the games, with the bid team expecting the city to make a profit of around £200 million on that.[4] The bidding process itself cost in the region £10 million.[1]


The venues for Birmingham's bid were centred around the National Exhibition Centre (pictured)

The main venues for the Birmingham bid were centred on the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), and attempted to highlight the ease of access between the venues and the proposed athlete's village and other transport links.[1] The NEC had seven indoor arenas, and it was expected that 85% of the sporting events would be hosted within 5 miles (8.0 km).[3] The shooting would have been hosted at the Aldersley Stadium, Wolverhampton, where an £8 million complex was to have been built under the bid proposal.[5]


Weymouth was suggested as a suitable venue for sailing events for the Birmingham 1992 Olympic bid. The location was described as the "Henley of sailing" having previously hosted numerous sailing competitions.[6]

Olympic villageEdit

It was anticipated that a new Olympic village would be constructed as opposed to using existing buildings in order to facilitate security precautions being built into the new properties.[3]

A secondary Olympic village at Weymouth was planned for the competitors in the sailing events. The Pontins holiday camp near Weymouth was identified as a likely location following a study conducted by the Royal Yachting Association in 1985.[6]

Bid factorsEdit

Birmingham began to host international sporting events in order to boost its profile as a potential city for the 1992 Olympics. These included an inner city Formula 3000 road race at a cost of £1.5 million.[7]

Support by the British Government for the bid was seen as lacking, with a letter of support signed by Kenneth Baker the Secretary of State for the Environment instead of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.[1] The question of the Government support was brought up in discussion in the House of Lords, with Lord Skelmersdale stating, "My Lords, it is the responsibility of Birmingham City Council to make and promote its own bid. In doing so, the city has sought Government support to enable it to meet the requirements of the Olympic Charter and to help Birmingham secure the nomination to host the Games. The Government are giving that support."[8] Shortly prior to the IOC vote there was a boycott by 21 countries of the 1986 Commonwealth Games in protest against Thatcher's ongoing support of maintaining sporting links with South Africa. In addition the United Kingdom had supported the United States in their bombing raid on Libya, which was seen as immediately eliminating any Middle Eastern support for a UK bid.[1] The Handsworth riots were also seen to have had a detrimental effect on Birmingham's bid for the Olympics.[9]


The British press had presented Barcelona's bid as falling out of favour with the IOC due to the locating of the Olympic stadium on top of a hill which would have presented problems with the ending stages of the marathon.[10] However Barcelona went on to win the bid process, with Birmingham being the second city to be eliminated after Amsterdam.

Further bids were put forward for the 1996 and 2000 Games from Manchester, but these too failed to win.[11] During the initial stages of putting together the bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics, the British bid team did look at putting forward Birmingham once more. However, the IOC told the bid team that the only way that Britain could host the games was if the bid came from London instead.[12]

Birmingham will host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Horne, John; Whannel, Gary. "London, the Olympics and the Road to 2012" (PDF). British Library. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 May 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Burrell, Ian (9 May 2011). "Brum deal: A second city with a third-rate reputation". The Independent. Retrieved 30 June 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b c "Birmingham, England Making a Bid to Host 1992 Summer Games". LA Times. 15 September 1985. Retrieved 30 June 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b "Birmingham mounts Olympics bid". The Times. 27 February 1986. p. 22.
  5. ^ Spittle, Frank. "Competitive Rifle Shooting in Wolverhampton from 1945". Wolverhampton History & Heritage. Archived from the original on 13 October 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b Morgan, Adrian (3 January 1986). "Strong crew for Jade's challenge off Florida". The Times. p. 20.
  7. ^ Seton, Craig (25 August 1986). "Road race attacked by vandals". The Times.
  8. ^ "Olympic Games 1992: Birmingham City Bid". Hansard. 18 April 1986. Retrieved 30 June 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Classic Whittock – Olympic bid". Birmingham Mail. 13 March 2008. Retrieved 30 June 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Barnes, Simon (26 October 1985). "Flat out to 1992". The Times. p. 10.
  11. ^ "London on verge on bidding for Olympics". AP Worldstream. 14 May 2003. Archived from the original on 29 March 2015. Retrieved 30 June 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ Clarkson, Ian (4 January 2004). "Olympics: Olympic success can aid Brum – Sir Steve". Sunday Mercury. Retrieved 30 June 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ "Commonwealth Games: Birmingham announced as host of 2022 event". BBC Sport. 21 December 2017. Retrieved 21 December 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)