World Gymnastics Case Study

Thursday, 21 September 2023


The World Gymnastics Championships took place across the ACC Liverpool campus for the first time in 2022.

M&S Bank Arena was the host venue for the majority of the tournament while Exhibition Centre Liverpool, also part of the site, was transformed into a fan zone for members of the public.

The competition took place over nine action-packed days with more than 35,000 visitors flocking to the venue to watch competitors claim 14 world titles and 79 medals.   

The ACC Liverpool Group team worked closely with Sport Liverpool and Liverpool City Council to bid for the event in 2017, alongside British Gymnastics and UK Sport.  Following its successful bid, the Local Organising Committee (LOC), UK Sport, FIG and British Gymnastics planned and delivered its most successful event to date. 

Team support included venue planning, layouts and facilitating the procuring of a bespoke tribune for world media.  The team facilitated site visits, venue logistics and staffing including stewarding for security and customer service, cleaning and venue services.

The ACC Liverpool Group’s in-house production team provided a raft of technical support including audio-visual services for opening and closing press conferences; volunteer training sessions and media briefings.  They provided full rigging services for AV installation in the competition hall, warm-up hall, training hall and FanZone areas.

Live-stream video was distributed to breakout rooms, fringe meetings and workshops; training areas; hospitality lounge and office rooms via its Brightsign network.  In addition, the team provided sound, lighting and video projection for the LOC VIP Hospitality suite.

In a letter to the Local Organising Committee following the event, Sarah Powell, chief executive of British Gymnastics, said: “Thank you for all your hard work and commitment in delivering the most successful World Championships, a ‘Stellar’ experience as stated by FIG.

“It has been an absolute pleasure working with you all and to see our longstanding partnership go to another level. As you know we have a very special relationship with Liverpool and the Arena, and this foundation certainly supported the delivery of a world class event.

“Every challenge that was thrown at the team, they took and grew stronger, even a global pandemic didn’t throw them.

“From a personal and a BG perspective we cannot thank you all enough, the World Championships was a vital moment for us and the sport to reflect everything that is wonderful about gymnastics and wow did it deliver.  The environment enabled the gymnasts to thrive, the presentation wowed the fans and the media, and the delivery left FIG in no doubt that we are the leader in delivering world class events.”

The event took place across the entire interconnected campus and, together with its three adjacent hotels and walkable city, helped to positively contribute on athlete welfare and performance.  These factors supported the city and campus’ bid for Eurovision.

Speaking as the event drew to a close, Claire Lewis, chair of the World Gymnastics Championships Liverpool 2022, said: “I would like to thank all the event partners, Liverpool City Council, British Gymnastics and UK Sport who have worked so well together to deliver the 51st World Championships despite the constraints of the global pandemic, and to attain the high bar we set for ourselves.

“We have witnessed such incredible skill and determination on the competition floor, and alongside amazing performances, we believe we have taken the spectator experience to the next level, delivering an immersive and inclusive experience for those both familiar and new to the sport of gymnastics.

“Closer to home we are confident that this event will leave a legacy that inspires the city to continue the story of the championships, through local communities, schools, athletes, coaches, and the volunteer workforce.”

Spectators in the arena – and more than 900,000 viewers who tuned in on BBC - watched the Great Britain team scoop six medals – their largest ever haul – for both the men’s and women’s teams.  Both teams achieved automatic qualification to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the only nation to do so.

There were a number of firsts for the Liverpool event - the first ever use of British Sign Language was displayed on screen for the duration of the competition. The venue worked with the event organisers to develop the WGC2022 App, which enabled audiences to be the fully immersed in the show.

Ben Williams, commercial director of The ACC Liverpool Group and a member of the LOC, said: We were honoured to host this global ​championship and welcome tens of thousands of gymnastics fans to our campus to see the world’s leading athletes in action.

“This phenomenal event was a culmination of the city working in collaboration with UK Sport, British Gymnastics and the International Gymnastics Federation from first submitting the bid in 2017 to holding a world-class Championships. It was a prime example of our prowess in delivering major international events.”

In its post-event report, FIG noted that: “It was an incredible honour and a wonderful privilege for the FIG to work with such an experienced and wonderful organising committee. All the efforts put in by the LOC and the City of Liverpool were invaluable. Their great collaboration and dedication were absolutely essential in making this edition of the World Championships one of the best in the history of the FIG. An exceptional blend of gymnastics and entertainment while celebrating the city's culture.”

More than 87,000 fans tuned in on the WGC2022 Facebook page in the UK. Brazilian All-Around star Rebecca Andrade’s performance was viewed over 700,000 times and the WGC2022 Instagram achieved more than three times the average followers from any of the previous five FIG World Gymnastics Championships, in excess of 11,000.

Around 18,500 gymnastics fans flocked through the doors of the exhibition centre to enjoy an engaging and immersive experience including meeting Fan Ambassador gymnasts Becky Downie, Claudia Fragapane, Dan Purvis, Kelly Simm and Kristian Thomas, and to see the Championship medals up close. The Fan Zone gave an opportunity of a lifetime to over 1500 young people from 37 schools and community groups.  Visitors experienced exceptional fan engagement and entertainment inside and outside the competition venue.

Tying the entire Championships together was the 406-strong volunteer army, who between them clocked a total of 15,000 hours working across 30 different roles, from spectator services, digital & media, sport, hospitality and event operations. The volunteers spanned from 18 to 85 years old and between them spoke 34 languages.

Beth Tweddle MBE, Ambassador for the World Gymnastics Championships, added: I knew it was going to be special, but the results we’ve seen, the crowds, the noise, the party atmosphere, we really had a show in Liverpool and the city really embraced the event.

“The Fan Zone in particular was incredible to be a part of, there was so much for kids to get involved in. For children who have never done gymnastics, it was an opportunity for them to have a go and wherever they live around the country, they can go home and find their local club.”

The event included, for the first time, a conference element with the Symposium on Safeguarding taking place in the convention centre – also part of the campus.  There are now plans for conferences to be hosted alongside all sporting events in the future.  AV for the symposium was provided by the in-house team.    

In numbers:

35406 tickets sold with the largest allocation to The ACC Liverpool Group’s ticketing agency, Ticket Quarter

Coverage - Print readership – 2.2 million and 628 pieces of coverage across print, online and broadcast.  Titles include nationals such as The Independent; local press covering the whole of the UK; Eurosport and event trade such as Access All Areas

Online readership – 133 million

19.3m TV viewership

95.8k estimated social views from shared media activity