Army personnel could be asked to provide extra assistance after scanning problems and stewarding issues led to long queues on the opening day of competition at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Members of the military are part of the Games delivery operation and were on duty at the opening ceremony at Alexander Stadium on Thursday night, but the PA news agency understands consideration is being given to asking them to offer further support than originally planned to stewards after some chaotic scenes on the first day of action.
Organisers announced earlier on Friday that 1.3 million tickets had been sold, which means Birmingham will break the attendance record for a Commonwealth Games held in the UK set at the Glasgow Games in 2014.
Serious queuing issues at the gymnastics. The men’s team final has started but half the crowd are still stuck outside. pic.twitter.com/nBmyGuZrz0
— Mark Staniforth (@markstani1) July 29, 2022
However, there were some early difficulties to report as lines of spectators were still stuck outside the Birmingham Arena 15 minutes after the gymnastics evening session had begun at 5.30pm on Friday.
Police and volunteer staff on site confirmed there had been an issue with the machines scanning tickets and the long queues did at least appear to be moving by 5.45pm.
PA understands there have also been issues caused by stewards whose first language is not English, and by spectators attempting to bring large bags and even suitcases into the venues with them.
Update❗️ If you're currently queueing outside #ArenaBirmingham we are experiencing delays with security screening.
Thank you for your patience
— Get Set For The Games (@GetSet2022) July 29, 2022
The Games official information channel on Twitter, @GetSet2022, had warned spectators of “minor delays” at the gymnastics but spectators stood outside were hearing from friends inside that the gymnasts had already started their second rotation.
Earlier in the day, the same Twitter account reported problems with scanners at the rugby sevens venue in Coventry.
Spectators replying to that tweet described the organisation at the site as a “shambles”, while others responded to the same tweet to report long queues at the cycling at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London.
Long queues were also seen outside Edgbaston with just 10 minutes to go until the first ball was bowled in the inaugural Commonwealth Games women’s T20 match between Australia and India.
Games guests and paying spectators also reported difficulties in leaving the Alexander Stadium after the opening ceremony on Thursday night.
Games organisers face a further challenge on Saturday with train drivers going on strike.
A spokesperson for Birmingham 2022 said: “We apologise to spectators who experienced delays in entering a couple of our venues on the first day of competition.
“We are working hard to ensure that all of our future sessions run as smoothly as possible. To help us get the thousands of spectators into each venue as quickly as possible, we encourage ticket holders to arrive at venues ahead of the session start time, as most of our venues open their doors an hour or more before the sporting action gets under way. Our website also includes further advice for spectators.
“We hope that our spectators have enjoyed the fantastic sporting action today and we look forward to welcoming everyone to all of our venues tomorrow.”