Kenyan official Humphrey Kayange and Barbados Chef de Mission Cameron Burke speak to the media at the University of Birmingham ©ITG

Team officials have spoken of the difficulties managing athletes across three Athletes’ Villages at the Commonwealth Games here as they adapt to the new model.

Birmingham 2022 has adopted a three-site campus approach for the Games, with athletes housed at the University of Birmingham, the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) and the University of Warwick.

The move came after plans for a sole Athletes' Village in the Perry Barr area of the English city were ditched in August 2020 due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chefs de Mission and team officials have arrived in Birmingham before athletes start entering the Athletes’ Villages from tomorrow when they officially open.

Cameron Burke, Chef de Mission for Barbados, and Humphrey Kayange, an International Olympic Committee member who is part of Kenya's management team, spoke to journalists after the media were given a tour of the Athletes’ Village at the University of Birmingham.

"It is certainly a challenge because we don’t have one complete Village," said Burke who is attending his sixth Commonwealth Games.

"We have athletes spread across all three Villages so it will be challenging but the amount of work that has gone into this facility and the other facilities really makes it a tremendous experience for us."

Athletes will be housed at the University of Birmingham along with the NEC and the University of Warwick ©ITG
Athletes will be housed at the University of Birmingham along with the NEC and the University of Warwick ©ITG

Barbados has selected a 98-member delegation with 32 of those based at the University of Birmingham, 35 at the NEC and 31 at the University of Warwick.

Burke admitted that being located at one Athletes’ Village would be "a lot more homely" for athletes.

"Every country has its culture but because we don’t have one Village it extremely different and more work for the Chefs," said Burke.

"Here, we are in a university complex so it is a completely different atmosphere.

"The amount of preparation we have to put it to make sure our athletes feel comfortable makes it different to the others.

"You expect the accommodation to be finished but because of the lateness of the handover of this facility a lot of work has to go into it.

"As Chefs and senior staff we have to assist the Organising Committee and make sure that it can make the Games good for the athletes."

The multi-site model has been praised by the Commonwealth Games Federation and is expected to be used by Victoria 2026 organisers.

About 2,800 athletes are set to stay at the University of Birmingham campus ©ITG
About 2,800 athletes are set to stay at the University of Birmingham campus ©ITG

While the Athletes' Village plans were scrapped, the Perry Barr regeneration scheme, including new housing and transport infrastructure, is still due to be delivered.

Kenya is sending 126 athletes to Birmingham for the Games, with 60 of those due to reside at the University of Birmingham.

Kayange said he hopes to inject "a bit of Kenyan spice" into the three Villages to ensure athletes feel at home.

"Using pre-existing facilities means that you have to adapt and make the space useable for the teams," said Kayange.

"It is the way the Games will be in the future so you are just adapting to this new way of hosting the Games and in terms of sustainability this is a big plus.

"The three-way model is just more work for Chefs and team management.

"But it ensures that athletes are near their venues with shorter distances.

"You can find one venue that can accommodate everyone but it is far from everyone else.

"I don’t know what will happen at the next [Games] - whether they will go back to a single venue where everyone stays there and is able to move across town for competition and training venues but this works out nicely for athlete experience."

The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games are scheduled to start next Thursday (July 28).