England’s Birmingham and Hungarian capital Budapest have been confirmed as the two final bidders to host the biennial European Athletics Championships in 2026, the third edition of the event.
Birmingham, the second-largest city in the UK, is set to stage this year’s Commonwealth Games and is looking to attract its next major multi-sport event to help ensure the legacy of Birmingham 2022, due to run from July 28 to August 8.
The city’s 30,000-capacity Alexander Stadium will be the focal point of the Commonwealth Games, holding the Opening and Closing ceremonies, as well as track and field events.
Other competitions will be held across the West Midlands, while London will stage track cycling races.
Budapest, meanwhile, is set to host the 2023 World Athletics Championships after being awarded hosting rights in 2018 by governing body IAAF. At the time, winning the right to stage the championships represented a consolation for leaders of Budapest’s aborted bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games, which was the year before.
Both cities have been visited by European Athletics representatives this month, with Budapest welcoming them on June 7 and 8, and the delegation visiting Birmingham straight after on June 9 and 10.
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Dobromir Karamarinov, European Athletics president, said: “We have two excellent candidates for the 2026 European Athletics Championships, with both potential local organizing committees having great experience in staging major outdoor athletics events. They also have superb stadia and either one of them would make an outstanding host.
“Birmingham will stage the 2022 Commonwealth Games and Budapest will be the host of the 2023 World Athletics Championships and so by 2026, they will be able to draw on these experiences. In the past, these cities have also staged outstanding global and continental events and they both have a great legacy in this respect.”
The UK’s Newcastle and Gateshead announced their intention to bid to host the 2026 European Championships last year. However, after failing to secure £25 million ($33.7 million) from the British Government to support the bid, Gateshead Council conceded in November that the idea was “dead in the water”.
European Athletics chief executive Christian Milz, said: “European Athletics would also like to confirm, following the recent European Athletics Council decision, that the 2026 European Athletics Championships will be organized as a stand-alone event like that in Rome in two years.
“The involvement and co-operation with the host member federation is especially important for European Athletics at our major events and we believe being independent, as the European Athletics Championships were until 2016, will strengthen this relationship as well as help create a special athletics experience for the competitors, athletics fans, TV and other media, and every other stakeholder in our sports, such as commercial partners, and provide enhanced international visibility and profile.”
Non-Olympic year editions of the biennial event have formed part of the multi-sport European Championships, with the inaugural edition having taken place in Berlin (athletics) and Glasgow (six other sports) in 2018. The 2020 edition, set for the French capital Paris was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Munich will host the second edition this year from August 11 to 21 as part of the German city’s hosting of the multi-sport European Championships, while Italian city Rome is set to stage the 2024 edition as a standalone athletics event.
A decision about which city will stage the 2026 European Athletics Championship will be made by the European Athletics Council in November 2022.