THE Queen’s baton relay will conclude its international tour of the Commonweath with a 40-day journey across Scotland, organisers of Glasgow 2014 Games have revealed.
The officials also launched a search for 4,000 “local champions” to take part in the baton’s symbolic journey across the country.
The baton was sent on its way on Wednesday by the Queen at Buckingham Palace, the first step on a trip that will take in 70 nations and territories and span around 123,000 miles.
The baton arrived back in Scotland yesterday for a fleeting visit. After a brief stop in Stirling and a civic reception at Glasgow City Chambers hosted by Sadie Docherty, the Lord Provost of Glasgow, the baton was placed on board a flight for New Delhi, for the first leg of its global tour. A performance by Scots pipers and Indian dancers marked the occasion at Glasgow Airport.
Louise Martin, secretary general of the Commonwealth Games Federation, carried the baton into the airport and will accompany it in the first few weeks of its tour. She vowed not to let it out of her sight as there is only one baton for the entire relay, unlike the Olympic relay in which hundreds of torches are used to carry the Olympic flame.
Ms Martin, who also chairs Sportscotland, said: “It certainly won’t be in the hold. It’s with us all the way and does not leave our sight – we cannot afford to have anything going wrong so we’ll leave nothing to chance.”
Doubt was cast over the Indian leg of the tour after reports from the country suggested it was unable to play host due to the Hindu festival of Dussehra, but organisers dismissed fears.
Ms Martin said: “We’ve been working with the Indians for months and it’s their holiday time so they were hoping we would be able to change, but we can’t change the route because it’s set from day one and we have to follow it right through the Commonwealth, so if we lose one day it’s a domino effect.
“They realised that and there were no problems. They reorganised some of their things so everything’s fine and it will be big party time in Delhi.
“I’ve just had an e-mail to say that we are going to be met air-side in Delhi by the top people in the Indian Olympic Association, which is really, really good. Then we’ve got a High Commission reception at the weekend after visiting the Taj Mahal, so excitement is really building.”
The Commonwealth relay tradition began in 1958, growing in size and scale with every Games. Over the next eight months, it will visit every nation and territory of the Commonwealth, travelling through Asia, Oceania, Africa, North and South America, the Caribbean and Europe. It will spend an average of one to four days in each nation, with an extended duration of seven days in Wales, two weeks in England and 40 days in Scotland.
About 100 people are needed to carry the baton on stretches of around 200m for each day it is in the home nation, and nominations have opened for bearers in each town and city it visits.
Organisers want people over the age of 12 who have made a contribution to their community through sport, are volunteers in youth groups or who are positive role models for young people. A judging panel will select the successful nominations for each local authority area.
Michael Cavanagh, the chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland, said the opening of the nomination process demonstrated that after years of anticipation, the Games were near.
He said: “The Queen’s baton relay is the ultimate symbol of the Commonwealth Games and its arrival in Scotland gives an important signal to both athletes and public that the Games are just around the corner.
“The baton’s journey through the country is the ideal opportunity to celebrate community sport and recognise those local athletes selected for Team Scotland at Glasgow 2014.”
Lord Smith of Kelvin, Glasgow 2014’s chairman, said: “In June and July next year, the Queen’s baton relay will travel throughout Scotland, sharing the excitement of the countdown to the Commonwealth Games with communities across the nation.
“It’s important as many people as possible feel part of this special moment and from today there’s a chance for everyone to nominate the people in their street, village, town or city that they would like to see honoured as baton-bearers.”
Commonwealth Games minister Shona Robison said: “As Scotland gears up for the biggest sporting and cultural event we’ve ever hosted, the baton relay domestic route offers a unique chance for people across the country to engage in next year’s Commonwealth Games.
“When the baton returns to Scotland next June, it will travel the length and breadth of the country, visiting each local authority, allowing everyone to join in the celebrations and experience a sense of pride and excitement in Games.”
She added: “The baton-bearer public nomination campaign announced today gives everyone in Scotland a chance to recognise up to 4,000 individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to their community.
“Help us reward community-spirited people, from the Borders to Shetland, and let perhaps unsung community champions in your towns and villages shine on the world’s stage.”
NAME A HERO
UNTIL 22 November, anyone in Scotland can nominate a local champion to be one of around 4,000 baton bearers required for the return to Scotland next summer.
Candidates must be at least 12 and have made a positive contribution to the lives of others through community sport, voluntary work, or school or youth organisations. Nominations can be made on the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games website, www.glasgow2014.com. Those nominating will also be asked to write, in 100 words or less, the reasons they consider their nominee meets the selection criteria.
The dates of the baton’s route through Scotland are:
Sat 14 June Edinburgh
Sun 15 June West Lothian
Mon 16 June Midlothian
Tue 17 June East Lothian
Wed 18 June Borders
Thu 19 June Dumfries and Galloway
Fri 20 June South Ayrshire
Sat 21 June East Ayrshire
Sun 22 June South Lanarkshire
Mon 23 June North Lanarkshire
Tue 24 June Falkirk
Wed 25 June Clackmannanshire
Thu 26 June Fife
Fri 27 June Dundee
Sat 28 June Angus
Sun 29 June Aberdeenshire
Mon 30 June Aberdeen City
Tue 1 July Shetland Islands
Thu 3 July Moray
Fri 4 July Perth & Kinross
Sun 6 July Stirling
Tue 8 July Eilean Siar, Comhairle nan
Thu 10 July Orkney Islands
Fri 11 July Highland
Sun 13 July Argyll and Bute
Mon 14 July Inverclyde
Tue 15 July North Ayrshire
Wed 16 July East Renfrewshire
Thu 17 July Renfrewshire
Fri 18 July West Dunbartonshire
Sat 19 July East Dunbartonshire
Sun 20 July Glasgow
Mon 21 July Glasgow
Tue 22 July Glasgow
Wed 23 July Glasgow; Opening Ceremony