James Mulligan

In a cast of tens of thousands of wonderful athletes, volunteers, Olympiapark, Local Organising Committee (LOC), federation staff, freelancers, service providers, police, ambulance, security services, and of course the 1.46 million people who attended a sporting or festival event as part of the Munich 2022 European Championships, it is difficult to single out any one person's contribution to what we have just witnessed. 

But it is important to acknowledge the indomitable Olympiapark chief executive Marion Schöne; the co-heads of the LOC Frank Seipp, Klaus Cyron, and Markus Schnetzer; the creative sparks Florian Weber, Benedikt Happe, Stefan Schumm, Lena Bernheine, and Eva Graf. 

The list goes on…even if they instinctively shy away from "receiving flowers" when brushing off any praise coming their way.

The second edition of the multi-sport European Championships was an outstanding event. 

If Glasgow-Berlin 2018 was proof of concept, Munich was where vision became reality. It exceeded the wildest expectations - which were high to begin with. 

Something very special happened across the nine Olympic sports over the 11 days in the Olympiapark, Regatta Centre, Koenisgplatz, Odeonsplatz, Rudi-Sedlmayer Hall, Messe München, and on the streets. 

As we heard a few times during our stay in Munich, much like what was said about Germany and its people after the World Cup in 2006, there was a Munich before the European Championships and there is a Munich after the European Championships - and they are two very different things.

Wherever one looked, there were smiling faces and magical moments. 

The second edition of the multi-sport European Championships in Munich saw more than 430 million hours of live coverage viewed in the eight key markets ©Munich 2022
The second edition of the multi-sport European Championships in Munich saw more than 430 million hours of live coverage viewed in the eight key markets ©Munich 2022

We had an idea we were in for something special when the Olympiapark had to be closed for an opening festival that saw 55,000 people cram around the Olympiasee and find a space all the way up to the top of the hill - an image to match that of the 1972 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. 

We saw 15,000 people watching a thrilling BMX freestyle park competition on the Olympiaberg, "the Woodstock of BMX", someone remarked. 

The roaring Odeonsplatz crowd willing German marathon runner Richard Ringer to produce an incredible sprint finish to claim gold, the 70,000 who lined the Park triathlon course over its three days of competition, the party atmosphere downtown at the Koenigplatz each day for the beach volleyball and sport climbing, and once the sport had finished, the rocking Roofs festival in Olympiapark taking the experience to a whole other level. 

Some observers thought the size of the crowds everywhere was downplayed by the organisers. 

Everywhere you looked, there were little sparks of creative genius in how the event was presented. 

The medal ceremonies being one such example: the Isar rafts - usually at home on Munich’s river - to bring athletics medal winners and presenters across the lake to the stage, the soaring orchestral denouement of "Keeping the Dream Alive" by local band Münchener Freiheit during the presentation, the beautiful medals designed by sponsor BMW, small plants instead of bouquets distributed to winners to then be planted in a Champions Garden in the Park...

It was a non-stop party for 11 days straight with spectators, volunteers, athletes, together right in the mix. 

We saw athletes still in their kit walking through the packed Olympiapark or sitting on the bus or tram with a medal they had just won dangling from their hands or dancing into the night at one of the festival tents.

It is easy to describe the event as a mini-Olympics. 

And yes, that comparison works in the sense that, like the Olympics at the world level, the tournament vision is to create a must-watch, must-attend event that elevates the champions of Europe through media exposure and the increased recognition of their achievements. 

We always say that for an athlete to be the best out of 750 million people on the continent deserves celebration at the highest level. 

But the goal of the European Championships is for it also to be authentic, approachable, and accessible - something tangible and liveable for those watching. 

The event is a limited number of sports and athletes - it is not a mixed bag of 30 sports - with the maximum being a targeted number of about 10 sports. 

Sustainability was a key value with Munich setting such a wonderful example. 

There were far fewer "official" cars and buses ferrying VIPs around than you would expect at an event of this scale with organisers instead encouraging the dignitaries - along with all other workforce, guests, media and broadcasters - to utilise the city’s efficient public transport system or e-bikes (you could see the Olympiapark chief executive Schöne whizzing about on hers).

Competitions took place in existing sports facilities, some of which have existed since the Summer Games 50 years ago, with nothing permanent being built. 

Among the temporary venues and constructions, the wooden cycling track of Messe München and BMX Park of Olympiaberg have already been sold to permanent venues. 

One cannot imagine a better legacy for an Olympic Park than how Munich brought to life its own iconic landmarks.

The overall cost was relatively inexpensive, with emphasis on the word relatively because €130 million (£110.2 million/$129.5 million) is still a fair whack, but when you consider that this is between 1 and 2 per cent of the cost of an Olympic Games, then it shows that an event at this level can be delivered on a sustainable budget for many cities around Europe. 

Anecdotal evidence assures us that there were no complaints lodged by the public about the costs of the Championships during the event. Not a single one!

Indeed, with the public, along with many athletes and National Federations, so effusive in their praise of being part of an event where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, the scales began to fall from the eyes of some of those previously unconvinced by the merits of being part of such a festival of sport.

Fans turned out in huge numbers for the Roofs festival and the European Championships ©Munich 2022
Fans turned out in huge numbers for the Roofs festival and the European Championships ©Munich 2022

The script could not have been better written, kept on the right side of believable with a couple of downpours and thunder and lightning, culminating with the German women claiming gold in the 4x100m relay in the final event and the hosts pipping Britain to win the overall medals table across the nine sports and claim the European Championships Nations Trophy.

On the media side, Munich 2022 absolutely flew. 

Broadcasters in Europe gave it the "major event" coverage reserved for the likes of the World Cup and Olympics once again with coverage from morning till evening, garnering fantastic market shares and peak audiences on their main free-to-air channels, far eclipsing anything an equivalent standalone championship could achieve. 

More than 430 million hours of live coverage were viewed in the eight key markets of Germany (ARD & ZDF), Italy (RAI), the Netherlands (NOS), Norway (NRK), Poland (TVP), Sweden (SVT), Switzerland (SRG-SSR), and United Kingdom (BBC).

European Championships Management's attention now turns towards developing the sports programme for 2026 and partnering with the hosts. 

We would very much like to continue with the nine sports from 2022 as a priority. 

Following our observer programme in Munich, we are in touch with a handful of interested parties and soon we still start discussing with each of them on developing a project that works for the stakeholders. 

We hope that, together with the next hosts, we can build something as special as Munich 2022. 

For now, though, it is with sincere gratitude that we thank Munich, the funding partners, and all the stakeholders, for their courage and faith in delivering an event that keeps the dream alive for the multi-sport European Championships and on delivering a legacy that will surely be the cornerstone for the next 50 years of the Olympiapark.