UK Athletics and Birmingham to host European Athletics Championships in 2026

Published: Friday, 11th November 2022

European Athletics have today announced that Birmingham will host the European Athletics Championships in 2026 following a successful bid process with UK Athletics (UKA).

Working in partnership with Birmingham City Council and UK Sport, UKA had high hopes of hosting Europe’s most prestigious European athletics competition, seven years on from staging the hugely successful European Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow in 2019.

Whilst the UK has also proudly hosted multiple Major Championships over the last 15 years including the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the World Athletics and World Para Athletics Championships as well as the World Athletics Indoor Championships, it will be the first time the UK has ever hosted the European Athletics Championships.

The bid win follows on from an exciting summer for athletics in the UK with medal success for GB & NI at the World and European Athletics Championships and for the home nation teams at a hugely successful home Commonwealth Games hosted by Birmingham at the newly renovated Alexander Stadium – which will be the venue for the event in 2026.

UKA’s Chief Executive Jack Buckner said: "We are delighted and honoured that we have been awarded the privilege of hosting the European Athletics Championships in 2026 in Birmingham. It is wonderful news for athletics and benefits the whole of the UK in demonstrating our ability to host major events across the whole country.

"UKA has held a long time wish to deliver this event and we thank European Athletics for its faith in entrusting us with its most important competition.

"Our vision for the Championships is about record breaking ticket sales and an amazing atmosphere for athletes to be inspired inside and outside the stadium. We have promised to deliver an amazing, innovative and game changing Championships, and we’re excited we can now put this plan into action!"

Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: "We are honoured and privileged to be asked to be the first-ever UK hosts of the prestigious European Athletics Championships in 2026.

"Over many years we have demonstrated we are a city that can proudly host major events of this type and scale – and the people of Birmingham and indeed the entire nation have proven time and time again their huge appetite for sport, especially athletics.

"The Alexander Stadium is beyond all doubt the premier athletics facility in the country and we cannot wait to welcome the elite of European athletics for this event, which will also bring a range of benefits for local communities and our economy beyond the programme of track and field activities."

Sally Munday, CEO of UK Sport, said: "I’m delighted that the UK will be welcoming Europe’s best athletes to Birmingham in 2026. Hosting the European Athletics Championships will be a fantastic opportunity to build on the legacy of the Commonwealth Games earlier this year and I know the British public will get behind the athletes and create a brilliant atmosphere in the Alexander Stadium.

"We’ve seen throughout 2022 the significant economic and social benefits of hosting big sporting events in this country and hosting this mega-event will deliver huge benefits for the city of Birmingham, the West Midlands region and the whole of the United Kingdom. It’s also important to recognise that our continued ability to deliver the very best global sporting events is thanks to the ongoing support of The National Lottery."

Sports Minister Stuart Andrew said: "It is fantastic that Birmingham has been chosen to host the first European Athletics Championship on British soil. The city is perfectly placed to put on the event following record-breaking ticket sales for a brilliant Commonwealth Games earlier this year.

"I look forward to seeing Europe's elite athletes descend on the West Midlands and the Government will continue to work closely with UK Sport, UK Athletics and Birmingham City Council to host another hugely successful event."

UK Athletics and Birmingham are proud to have been announced as the Host City of European Athletics Championships 2026. Athletics fans from Birmingham and across the UK and beyond will travel to see these championships. For those interested in hearing first about tickets and wider opportunities to get involved in the championships, register on this link

Background notes

UK Athletics

UK Athletics is the national governing body of the leading Olympic and Paralympic sport in Britain. British Athletics is the sport we represent, the people, the athletes, the fans, the team.

We work closely with the home countries to develop and grow all areas of the sport including elite performance, coaching, major international events, competition and grassroots programmes within schools and clubs.

For more information visit

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About Birmingham City Council’s support for the 2026 bid

A report on the council’s backing for the bid was approved by its Cabinet in June 2022.

The report outlined a series of key facts and figures about the 2026 Championships, if Birmingham was selected as the Host City.

The council’s Cabinet agreed to underwrite a one off contribution up to £13.7m which would be the net cost of the championships, noting that this figure would reduce with successful bids for funding to both UK Sport and DCMS.

The report noted that although the city has already secured two major sporting events in the World Blind Games 2023 and the World Trampoline Championship 2023, a successful bid to host one of the biggest global sporting events in the shape of the European Championships in 2026 would be a key legacy event in the drive to deliver a golden decade of events and would support the council’s Be Bold Be Birmingham legacy plan for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The Commonwealth Games demonstrated the appetite for major sporting events in Birmingham and the UK as a whole. The programme of athletics and para athletics was a sell-out, with more than 300,000 tickets purchased by enthusiastic spectators.

In summary the key headline projected impacts derived from hosting the event, according to the council’s Cabinet report of June 2022, include:

  • Hosting the event would deliver c.£34m economic benefit to Birmingham (spend drawn into our city from outside of Birmingham)
  • £12m of the event budget is expected to be spent on suppliers/businesses in Birmingham
  • The event would generate 2,900 volunteers (volunteering at major events helps people develop skills that are transferrable and can help them to find work or improve their career prospects)
  • Increased global exposure and promoting our city brand/place making
  •  1,332 hours of live television coverage, with a media value of £26.35m
  • 366 million viewing hours (number of live coverage hours multiplied by average audience)
  • C.300,000 spectator admissions, equating to 120,000 unique spectators (on average people attend around 2-3 sessions) with previous events showing between 7-24 per cent will visit from overseas
  • 69-73 per cent of visitors to host cities for athletics events state they were more likely to return to these locations as a result of the event. In this case that would equate to around 30,000 of the 40,000 event visitors (as 80,000 of the expected 120,000 are from within Birmingham) being more likely to return to the city
  • In Berlin the five-year build up to the event saw a 30 per cent increase in young people becoming members of athletics clubs
  • Some 43-52% of spectators at the 2017 IAAF World Championships and 2018 World Indoor Athletics Championships said that attending the events had inspired them to do sport and active recreation more than they would normally. In this example that would equate to c.40,000 of the 80,000 Birmingham spectators being inspired to get more active
  • 97 per cent of local spectators felt proud that London hosted the 2017 IAAF World Championships. The corresponding statistic for the 2018 World Indoor Athletics Championships in Birmingham was 98 per cent
  • 91 per cent of local spectators felt that the 2017 IAAF World Championships had a positive impact on London’s communities. The corresponding statistic for the 2018 World Indoor Athletics Championships in Birmingham was 90 per cent.

UK Sport 

UK Sport is the UK’s trusted high-performance experts, powering our greatest athletes, teams, sports and events to achieve positive success. Established in 1997, UK Sport has transformed the high-performance sporting system in the UK – through strategic leadership and investment of National Lottery and Government funds – winning more Olympic and Paralympic medals than ever before and is recognised as one of the top nations in the world for event hosting capabilities. UK Sport’s purpose is to lead high-performance sport to enable extraordinary moments that enrich lives and aims to work collaboratively with partners to deliver the greatest decade of extraordinary moments; reaching, inspiring and uniting the nation. 

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