Symphotech Safety was on site at the World Gymnastics Championships Liverpool 2022, supporting Liverpool City Council, British Gymnastics, UK Sport and The Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique, (FIG) to deliver a safe, World-Class event, October 29th to November 6th, 2022.

Over 500 athletes from 70 countries thrilled the thousands of fans enjoying nine days of the highest level of competition at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena, with 14 world titles claimed and 79 medals presented, FIG President, Morinari Watanabe hailing the championships a success. Symphotech Safety Director Eddy Grant led the safety team on site has been working for over three years of preparation alongside all of the stakeholders, particularly Jen Falding, Strategic Lead for Major Sports Events at Liverpool City Council and Gold for the event, Jen states:

“We brought together an exceptional team to deliver the highest standard event, which included some consultants working from overseas. Competition Director Matthew Greenwood’s understanding on how to format a gymnastics event has been invaluable in delivering a World Class event. I think it’s really important that we brought in an independent Health & Safety team. Symphotech has brought a lot of valuable experience around events, knowing Liverpool and the venue. They’ve had to be very pragmatic, dealing with everything from COVID planning to suit all countries requirements to the specialist requirements that gymnastics present.”

The safety management began in 2019 planning consultation, continuing through the build phase, into being on-site throughout the Championships. Eddy explains:

“Strategically, Liverpool City Council was very keen to host an inclusive Championships, with a tangible legacy for the city. The local organisers were clear that they wanted to stage the best ever World Championships and it’s been nice to be part of such an ambitious team. Welcoming enthusiastic audiences every day has touched all of the gymnasts and made this event very special.

“One of the key tasks was establishing protocols with the local organisers and FIG over their approach to COVID, working with the UK Health Security Agency and Public Health England. In March/April we had to predict what might be the challenges and solutions as we move into winter, which extended our mindset to a wider virus and disease mitigation approach. We included Flu, Nora Virus, Winter Vomiting Virus and considered how to manage all of the risks across the relatively short period everyone was on site the Championships. Our approach mapped the contact across international gymnasts, event professionals and volunteers in keeping with the current UK approach, around ventilation, space and handwashing,

“Pre COVID, there was no event with a viral healthcare policy, but the emerging thinking is that we have to consider susceptibility and have a reasoned process, with solutions, approved by the UK HSA, with a proportionate approach that could now be adapted across the wider industry.

“Raising all of the considerations gives people the ability to consider the risks and make their own choices. It’s fitting that we’re back in Liverpool, where the first test events took place that led to events coming back from the lockdown.

“In response to international concerns within the sport, along with contemporary awareness around mental health, the organisers also hosted a symposium around the wellbeing of the gymnasts. This extended from the elite level to the parents bringing their children to the fanzone, who will go on to join local clubs, with the message that the sport is not about winning gold medals, but about creating fantastic human beings.

“One of the areas we have to manage, which we’ve seen at other major sporting events, such as the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham earlier this year, is the volunteers. They have come from a wide variety of professions and are critical in making the Championships a success. They have brought a wide range of skillsets that we don’t see at most events, coupled with their enthusiasm they have helped make this very special.”

Watching these incredible athletes, it is striking that years of dedicated preparation comes down to minutes, even seconds, of performing their routines. Similarly, Eddy and the team brought decades of experience to the event safety plans and on-site operation, which a crystallised by in-the-moment decisions from the venue control room, using Symphotech’s proprietary safety control log alongside the venue’s HALO provision.

Seeing all of the young fans meeting their idols and engaging on the apparatus in the brilliant fanzone, coupled with great coverage on the BBC, will surly ensure that this event will not only be enjoyed in the moment, but also inspire the next generation of gymnasts.