THE Glasgow 2014 Games will be a “powerful catalyst” for economic growth, regeneration and promoting healthy lifestyles, Scotland’s sports minister has told the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Sri Lanka.
Shona Robison said a survey has found that the event has captured the imagination of young people, with 94% of 11 to 18-year-olds interested in the Games and a third of them wanting to watch the sports live at venues.
She addressed the Commonwealth Games Federation, which is part of the heads of government meeting in Colombo.
Ms Robison is the first Scottish Government minister to be invited to address the meeting, which has been plagued by controversy by the decision to host it in Sri Lanka amid claims of war crimes and ongoing abuses.
The sport and Commonwealth Games minister told the leaders of the Commonwealth’s sports federations that Scotland is ready to “welcome the world” next year.
“It’s fitting that we are in Sri Lanka, for this is the country in which Scotland won the bid to host the Commonwealth Games back in 2007,” Ms Robison said.
“Since then we have worked tirelessly with our partners to stage a world-class Games that the Commonwealth can be proud of.
“Research published today shows that, across Scotland, we are already seeing the economic and social benefits of hosting the Commonwealth Games.
“Glasgow 2014 will rightly be an athlete-centred games, but as these figures show the Games is also a powerful catalyst for economic growth, regeneration and encouraging us all to leave healthier and more active lives.”
The latest update from the Scottish Government’s legacy assessment found that the use of local authority leisure facilities is up from 2008 and the amount that the sports and recreation sector contributes to the Scottish economy has risen by 15% since 2008 to £508 million.
Ms Robison added: “The Games also provides a platform for Scotland to secure new business and investment opportunities.
“Scotland currently has £1.8 billion of exports to the Commonwealth - excluding the UK - and we aim to strengthen these economic links through activity such as staging a Commonwealth Games business conference on the eve of the event, which I announced this week.
“2014 promises to be a special year for Scotland as we are already experiencing benefits from the hosting the Games. But that is only the start of our legacy ambition.”
Louise Martin, chair of sportscotland, said: “The 2014 Games provides an exceptional opportunity to showcase the best of Scotland and to deliver a successful sporting legacy.
“Sportscotland is working closely with the Scottish Government to encourage people to lead more active lives and these new figures show the growing momentum and excitement around the Games is capturing the imagination of our young people and improving use of sports facilities.”