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Birmingham's 1992 Olympic bid: Seven reasons it failed

Midlands Today
50th anniversary


Remember the 1992 Olympics? Linford Christie's 100m victory, Sally Gunnell going for gold, a distraught and injured Derek Redmond being helped around the track by his father.

But it could all have been so different if Birmingham - not Barcelona - had hosted the Games.

In the mid-1980s the city launched an audacious bid to bring the world's greatest sporting event to the West Midlands.

Here are seven reasons from the archive that might suggest why it failed.

1. No-one believed this song

media captionAccording to this song, bringing the 1992 Olympic Games to Birmingham would be "the best thing that anybody could do".

Electric 80s synth, a Bowie-esque singer and mesmerising lyrics. Get ready....

As the city ramped up its efforts to woo the judges, this promotional song was released.

And according to the lyrics, bringing the Games to Birmingham would be "the best thing that anybody could do". The Olympic committee disagreed.

Freddie Mercury's cover of Barcelona became the anthem of the 1992 Games. Could it have been reworked to fit "Birmingham"?

2. These spells didn't work

media captionThe white magic ceremony was aimed at helping to bring the Olympics to Birmingham

"They flew in by chartered broomstick from that most ancient seat of necromancy, Milton Keynes," said Midlands Today's reporter, struggling to remove his tongue from his cheek.

White witches Dot and Reg - or Morgana and Merlin as they were known - were brought to the city to cast an Olympic spell. They promised "something special would happen" within 14 days.

And they were right.... Barcelona was named Olympic host and Birmingham's dream extinguished.

3. This big launch

media captionJournalists and TV crews from around the world convened in Birmingham as the city bid to host the 1992 Olympic Games.

Birmingham's officials gathered the cream of the UK press to launch their bid for Olympic glory, sat them in this room - and then admitted that all of their foreign rivals had a head start.

Their big event was a far cry from the glitzy event launches we're used to seeing today.

4. This show home

This "show home" at the NEC was, according to the reporter, the "kind of accommodation athletes will enjoy in their village".

They even came with paintings.

5. The sights and sounds

Hop on board to see the Olympics dream by air. Journalists had an all expenses paid flight over the Midlands to be wowed by Perry Barr (earmarked for gymnastics), the Alexander Stadium, Stoneleigh and Nottingham.

Beautiful sites, but perhaps overshadowed when you consider the competition - Barcelona, Paris and Brisbane.

The concrete-clad National Exhibition Centre (NEC) was to have hosted 85% of the events. This was billed as a selling point.

6. This logo

If you look closely you can see Birmingham's name.

Red on red, with some green and blue mixed in for good measure - incorporated with the city council logo. You cannot deny it was eye catching.

7. Birmingham v Barcelona

image copyrightEmpics

Lake of Banyoles (watersports), Circuit de Catalunya (cycling) and not forgetting the glorious temperatures the Spanish city enjoys. We can't help but feel - did Birmingham ever really stand a chance?

Related Topics

  • Perry Barr
  • Birmingham
  • Barcelona