City pitches venues to Olympians

COMPETITORS from around the world taking part in the Olympic Games in London are to be urged to use Edinburgh as their base.

The city council is promoting its sports facilities as ideal training camps for countries taking part in the 2012 Games to prepare for the big event.

There has already been interest from a number of teams, including the Canadian Paralympic swimming team, in setting up a training camp at the revamped Royal Commonwealth Pool ahead of the 2012 Olympics.

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Promotional brochures showcasing the city's sports facilities, including the Commonwealth Pool and Peffermill, have also been sent out to the countries taking part in the Olympics.

The Meggetland Sports Complex is among other city facilities that could make ideal camps.

Councillor Deidre Brock, the city's culture and sport leader, said: "Our sports team are in discussions with a number of countries who have expressed interest in using the Royal Commonwealth Pool."

The bid to attract competitors to the city is part of a wider initiative by the city council to ensure that Edinburgh benefits from both the Olympics and Commonwealth Games.

A series of cultural projects are also being worked on to try to bring people to the Capital as part of their trips to take in the major sporting events.

Council chiefs, Festivals Edinburgh and the Scottish Arts Council are also in discussions with the Cultural Olympiad Team about the city's festivals becoming "recognised cultural partners" to the 2012 Olympiad.

If successful, it would mean that several festival events would be "keynote events" in a 12-week programme of events being held between June and September 2012 by the Cultural Olympiad.

A spokeswoman for Festivals Edinburgh said: "We are working with various partners to make sure we build on the great momentum of the Olympic and Commonwealth Games."

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Jim Inch, the council's director of corporate services, said: "These major events provide a significant opportunity to promote the city and attract visitors to Edinburgh.

"However, there is a potential risk that the major events in London and elsewhere will attract some tourists or residents who would otherwise visit or stay in Edinburgh. A great deal of work is under way to mitigate this potential risk."

Councillor Paul Godzik, culture and sport leader for the Labour group on the council, said it may be difficult to attract Olympic teams to Edinburgh's facilities. He said: "Certainly the universities have fantastic facilities and Peffermill is top rate. But it is a great disappointment that the citizens of Edinburgh don't have the 21st century facilities they expect. It was a great missed opportunity that we don't have a new Meadowbank and without that it is unlikely that these Olympic teams will be willing to come to Edinburgh."


THE city council has confirmed it now wants the Big Screen to remain on Festival Square until after the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

It was initially to be removed at the end of the 2012 London Olympics. It is operated by the BBC.

But there has been criticism of the impact the screen has on the Square, as well as the shortage of local content. However, the BBC will only be responsible for content until 2012 – meaning the council could decide how the screen is used after that.