Games changer: for the common good

CritComm Insights principal analyst Ken Rehbehn discusses his time embedded with the communications team at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

For sheer excitement, it is tough to beat the pageantry and action at massive sporting events such as the Olympics or World Cup games. These mega events draw vast audiences and place an immense burden on radio systems supporting public safety, the public mobile cell systems, event communications, and even the licence-exempt spectrum we all take for granted.

For the summer of 2022, I travelled to Birmingham in the UK to discover just what it takes to make one of these mega-sporting events a safe place to visit and compete. The occasion was an opportunity to embed myself in the radio communications team, supporting the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. The Games brought together top athletes from across 72 Commonwealth countries to compete for the top honours in their sports. Given the unique wireless communications challenges these events pose, what is required to make them a success?

While terms vary from event type to event type, major sporting events such as the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games follow a template that matches the operations of the International Olympics Committee (IOC). These events are structured carefully to support large scale, with delegated functional areas that report to a supervisor (discussed below). The Games operate under the leadership of an organising committee (OC). The competitions organised by the OC are held at venues scattered across the host’s region.

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