Belgium’s Luka van den Keybus competes at the World Gymnastics Championships 2022 © Simone Ferraro
Liverpool (GBR) 04/10/2022 51st FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships. Women’s AA Final van den KEYBUS Luka BEL © photo Simone Ferraro

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 underlinesLiverpool’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.

Liverpool’s Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Culture, Councillor Harry Doyle, said:

“We’re a city that understands the value of events, but seeing all the achievements in black and white really gives people a greater appreciation of why we are always pushing ourselves forward to host competitions of this calibre.

“As Liverpool always does when it comes to staging events, we really embraced the World Gymnastics Championships 2022, celebrating its time here and even using it as inspiration for last year’s incredibly popular River of Light trail.  

“It makes all the hard work worthwhile when you see those figures – a £5 million much-needed financial boost and thousands of people coming here for the first time who are more than likely going to return after such a positive experience.

“And it’s not just about the numbers – we’re already seeing that this event will have a lasting legacy for Liverpool, making a tangible difference to many communities and the lives of those who will benefit from the positive physical and mental health benefits of getting active.

“I’d like to thank British Gymnastics and UK Sport for working with us to deliver such an exceptional event – I hope we can do it again soon!”  

Chair of the WGC2022 board 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.

Matthew Greenwood, Events Director at British Gymnastics said:

“Liverpool 2022 was a World Championships to remember, with the experience of the thousands of fans who attended and the way the city and our fantastic army of volunteers embraced the event putting smiles on faces right around the arena.

“Roared on by a passionate home crowd, the performances of Britain’s gymnasts made it the most successful Artistic Gymnastics World Championships ever by a British team, but the success of the event was about much more than medals. From leading a global conversation on safe sport by hosting the first ever FIG Safe Sport Symposium, to training deliverers for our British Gymnastics Foundation’s Love to Move seated gymnastics programme that helps people with dementia, the positive impact of Liverpool 2022 has continued far beyond the event itself.”

Liverpool Waterfront