DCSIMG

Glasgow makes final call for 2014 Games

SINCE the Commonwealth Games Council for Scotland decided that Glasgow, not Edinburgh, should be a candidate city to host the Games of 2014, the major elements of the bid have been gradually put in place.

As befits the city which houses Hampden, Celtic Park and Ibrox, many of the sporting facilities are already in place, albeit in some cases in need of an upgrade or alteration over the next seven years.

Today, however, will see a lot of the detail fleshed out, as the Glasgow team - and their sole surviving opponents from Abuja in Nigeria - present their official bid document to the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) in London.

In common with their Abujan counterparts, Glasgow have had to answer a mass of questions from the CGF, subdivided into 16 headings.

These include every aspect of hosting a modern multi-sport event, from how customs and immigration will deal with athletes and officials when they first enter the country, to what facilities the citizens of Glasgow and the wider surrounding area would have to enjoy afterwards - the so-called legacy.

The environment, the weather conditions in the city at the time of year it proposes to hold the Games, finance, marketing, technology, medical services, security, and the athletes' village - these and other topics must also be addressed.

Glasgow's one advantage is a politically sensitive one, and, therefore, may receive no direct mention when the bids are handed in today at the Langham Hotel in central London. That is the belief that, whatever concerns Scottish society has about anti-social behaviour and the crime rate, the country is a safer and more stable place to visit than Nigeria.

As there is no section of the bid document which invites candidates to say why other cities should be ruled out, the Glasgow team has had to emphasise its own virtues in such areas subtly, leaving voters from other countries to think for themselves how matters may differ in Abuja.

And, while there is a recognisable feeling that the Commonwealth Games should be held soon in Africa, those voters will, in most cases, be officials who will be travelling to the Games in seven years' time. They may think there is a general case for taking the Games to Nigeria; but, as individuals, they may also prefer to visit Scotland for a few weeks.

That, at least, is the hope of the Glasgow team. That their bid can show their experience as a city capable of hosting major sporting events over the last few years, from the Champions League final of 2002 to the UEFA Cup final, which will take place next week. And that they can sell their vision of building on what already exists and adding some new venues.

Hampden Park, surely one of the world's best-known footballing venues, is to hold the athletics programme, as well as the seven-a-side rugby. Tollcross, one of a handful of 50-metre pools in Scotland, will be home to the swimming and diving; like Hampden, it has proven its suitability in recent years by hosting European championships.

The SECC will be the major venue for indoor sports. A new velodrome will be constructed near to Celtic Park. And, just as importantly, a new athletes' village will also be built in the east end of Glasgow.

For Tommy Yule, a weightlifter who has competed in the past for Scotland and is now on the athletes' commission for Glasgow, the village could have a crucial effect on ensuring the Games reach, or even surpass, the standards set by the two most recent hosts, Manchester and Melbourne.

"Planning the village is a big thing, although it can actually come down to small things making a difference," he said yesterday as he prepared for his role as a member of the team which will submit the bid.

"In Melbourne, for example, there were only plastic chairs to sit about on for two weeks.

"It may not sound vital, but, if we get things right for the athletes, they'll be able to perform to the best of their abilities.

"I've been visiting other countries as part of the bid, and, when I visited South Africa, for instance, I had an opportunity to talk to their Games Federation. I saw them sit up and listen to what I was saying, because it was coming from an athlete. It will be the best Games ever. Previous Games have been looked at, then we have reflected on them and offered our suggestions."

Asked about the legacy the Games would leave, Yule explained he thought of the word as referring to the continuing impact it had on individuals, rather than just the continuing existence of some newly-built or -improved bricks and mortar.

"One aspect of the legacy would obviously be the new facilities or the improvements made to old ones," he added. "But the main thing for me is showcasing minority sports in a really good way, which could attract many young people who might normally consider those sports and just concern themselves with football."

Chris Hoy, Lee McConnell, Steve Frew and Kirsty Balfour are among the other athletes who are part of the commission.

Unlike at bidding for the Olympic Games, when the presentation of a video by each candidate city is followed by a vote, Glasgow will receive no immediate feedback on its bid from other Commonwealth countries - or, at least, it will not be official feedback.

The vote between Glasgow and Abuja does not take place until 9 November when a conference is held in Sri Lanka.

Before that, a CGF evaluation team will visit both cities in August or September and produce a technical report to advise countries on the state of readiness of the cities.

Painful lessons of 1986 should prevent financial crisis

JO ATKINSON

THE 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh should have been a glorious repeat of the memorable hosting of the event in Scotland's capital city just 16 years earlier.

The 1970 Games remain one of the most popular stagings of the event since the four-yearly gathering of the Commonwealth - then the British Empire - began in 1930. Unfortunately, the 1986 version is the most notorious. It was the sporting equivalent of last week's scandal at the polling stations.

Three aspects of the 1986 Games sullied Edinburgh's reputation as a natural home of the friendly Games. First of all, the political climate conspired to see much of the Commonwealth boycott their own Games. British government policy on apartheid, and Britain's attitude to sport in South Africa, caused most African, Asian and Caribbean countries to stay away.

Secondly, the financial figures did not add up. When faced with a serious financial black hole, the boycott ended any prospect of securing emergency assistance. Finally, and fatally, flamboyant businessman Robert Maxwell stepped in to 'save' the Games and sealed the event's fate as a financial catastrophe. Instead of putting enough money into the event to save it, the new chairman of the Games asked creditors to forego half the payment due to them to keep the event out of liquidation.

On a budget of 14m, the Games opened with a deficit of 3m. From there, it's fair to say that things didn't get much better, and the deficit became 4.3m. having promised to put 2m into the pot, Maxwell's contribution was just 250,000.

The mess was eventually cleared up in 1989, with the city of Edinburgh losing out to the tune of 500,000.

Africa's long wait to play host favours Abuja

JO ATKINSON

IF the name of Abuja seems unfamiliar, it shouldn't be. The purpose-built city has been the capital of Nigeria since 1991, and was the host city of the All Africa Games four years ago.

Nigeria is the most heavily-populated country in Africa, and its major city already has in place many of the facilities that would be required to host the Commonwealth Games in 2014. The national stadium has a capacity of 60,000, and the city can boast of cycling and swimming facilities - important considerations, given that the cost of a swimming pool and a velodrome are major expenses for would-be hosts.

But what weighs most heavily in Abuja's favour is the fact that no African nation has hosted the Commonwealth Games since the event began as the Empire Games in 1930.

It is a bridge the Commonwealth Games Federation will have to cross soon, if the African nations are to continue to feel they are valued members of an all-inclusive Commonwealth.

The question is: will that be this time, or at a date in the future?

Nigeria spent $300m on the All African Games, which is more than the sum total of the country's annual budget for health and education. Among the critics of that excess was the World Bank.

Can Abuja afford the Games? At this stage, that remains a matter for the host, not the voters.

TIMELINE TO GLASGOW BID FOR 2014 COMMONWEALTH GAMES

2004

February

Commonwealth Games Council for Scotland invites cities to make bid for 2014 Games.

September

Glasgow is picked ahead of Edinburgh as Scottish candidate to be host city, should Scotland submit a bid. The decision is made by the Commonwealth Games Council for Scotland and is unanimous. Glasgow "would give us the best possible chance of success" says Louise Martin, chairman of the CGCS.

November

Bid Assessment Group established to begin work on development of Glasgow's proposals, including research into economic benefits of a winning bid.

2005

May

Three-month study by PMP Consultants concludes Glasgow bid would have "substantial merits".

August

Scottish Executive announces its support for Glasgow's bid, with First Minister Jack McConnell pledging 200 million backing. It is estimated it will cost 250m to stage the Games. "This can change our country," says McConnell. With South Africa withdrawing, the only other rival bidders are likely to be Canada and Nigeria.

October

Scottish Enterprise Glasgow pledges 1m of backing for the bid.

November

UK Sports Ministers from England, Wales and Northern Ireland pledge to back Glasgow bid.

December

Glasgow formally enters the race to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games, with Jack McConnell signing the official papers and submitting the 60,000 of Executive money necessary to enter.

2006

January

Glasgow's 2014 logo is unveiled as McConnell launches two-month campaign to gather support for bid in the face of competition from Halifax in Canada and Abuja in Nigeria.

February

Glasgow City Council gives go-ahead for two national sports venues. It agrees an 18.4m funding package for the Toryglen Regional Indoor Training Centre and the Scotstoun Rugby and Athletics Stadium.

March

McConnell and Martin give well-received presentation at 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. Scottish athletes play their part too, returning from Australia with a record haul of medals.

May

Glasgow bid receives its millionth pledge of support from a member of the public.

9 July

Local opposition in Canada grows for Halifax's bid, with concern mounting over escalating costs.

12 July

Council gives approval to a 12,500-seat arena which will be used to boost Glasgow's bid.

August

Announced that the East End of Glasgow will host the athletes' village if the city secures the 2014 Games. Part of Dalmarnock will be transformed as more than 1,000 new homes are earmarked for the site.

September

Glasgow 2014 Athletes' Commission created to enhance Games' experience for participants.

October

First voting delegates arrive in Glasgow as the Commonwealth Games Federation European Group spend three days in the city.

November

A 12-month countdown to find out if Glasgow will host the Games begins. The decision is to be made in Sri Lanka on 9 November 2007.

2007

January

The 17 sports that form Glasgow's bid are revealed. They include the ten mandatory sports: aquatics, athletics, badminton, bowls, boxing, hockey, netball (women only), rugby sevens (men only), squash and weightlifting. In addition, there are cycling, gymnastics, judo, shooting, table tennis, triathlon and wrestling. The Glasgow 2014 team say they remain "hopeful" cricket can be added to the list.

Hampden, Ibrox and Parkhead all offer to host the rugby sevens.

9 March

Halifax withdraws bid to hosts Games, leaving Glasgow the front runner in a two-horse race with Abuja. Rising costs force the Canadian city to pull out.

25 March

Abuja's 17 sports are the same as Glasgow, with the exception of basketball replacing triathlon in the Nigerian bid.

May

Glasgow submits formal bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

 
 
 

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