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Glasgow's time to do Commonwealth Games proud

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John Beattie | 09:40 UK time, Saturday, 16 October 2010

Now it's Glasgow's turn to deliver. And how the people of Glasgow and Scotland react will make or break the Commonwealth Games.

What few in Glasgow will appreciate is the scrutiny we will be put under in the lead up to 2014 - and then during the Games. Overseas TV crews will be looking for our ned culture, our failings, our diet, our religious divide and our relationship with England.

The Scotland I know is a diverse and happy place and there are a few basic lessons to be learned from Delhi.

The first is that the local population and the volunteers have a huge role to play in whether the Games succeed. Delhi should have been a disaster, but it was a delight, principally thanks to the people of the city. They were unfailingly helpful and courteous, and I know Glasgow folk will be as well.

How the city and the country engage the people of Glasgow to be enthralled by the Games and then be part of the marketing strategy itself is crucial.

And that includes eradicating the natural tendency of many businesses to rip people off. I think I would die of shame if hotel rates go up, food becomes more expensive, taxi drivers are rude and overcharge, and people are on the make.

People from India coming to our country, I am told, earn around 15,000 Rupees a month or so. At 70 Rupees a pound, that is £200 a month. A fish supper at a fiver gets expensive.

The second is that, to make the events look good, the venues have to be full. How you fill Ibrox for rugby sevens, or get people to the mountain biking track on the South Side, will be just a couple of the challenges.

Again, buy-in from the population is so, so important.

Our leaders have to be honest about the Games. It is pretty obvious that some of the leaders here in Delhi were not.

Transport in Delhi, on the face of it, was a lottery too. But, actually, it worked well. For the closing ceremony, fleets of free buses ferried people from the venue to the brand new subway.

I think it would be a great gesture if everyone coming to Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games got to travel on public transport for free for the two weeks. I like buses. I'd like river ferries and safe walking or cycling tracks for everyone and have private cars banned from the city centre.

The last thing is this: I always bang on about legacy. We endlessly debate whether sporting events leave a legacy. The legacy, we all believe, should be a sporting one, with mass sport participation for everyone.

Actually, I am not so sure anymore. I am not sure that major sporting events are about sport. The Commonwealth Games are about the projection of a country's image and about that country hosting lots of other countries to come and have a party in peace.

Who wins what medals is a sidebar to the whole process. Major games are about engaging a population and leaving a great impression on visitors in the hope that they come back.

Hand on heart; I want to come back to India.

I just want to leave you with one scene. At the end of the closing ceremony, my BBC colleague, David McDaid, and I were ushered down the wrong stairway as we tried to leave the stadium. We ended up diving sideways into hundreds of performers who had just finished being part of the most extravagant closing ceremony known to man.

They were leaving too. We were hot and sweaty. And then there was a moment when all these young Indian singers and dancers, dressed in bright clothes, suddenly realised what they had been part of.

It went quiet and then they broke out in smiles, dancing and singing and whooping and hugging.

It was all about pride. We could feel it. They were proud of what they had done and what they had been part of - and what they had just projected to the world.

And, as a country of 1.2 billion people lets a country of five million people take over the Commonwealth flag, I think that's what I'd like most of all.

It would just be great if we can provide a Commonwealth Games that we all buy into and that we are all proud of.


  • Comment number 1.

    At Victoria a ticket to a venue was a ticket on the public transport too. A good move.

  • Comment number 2.

    John, I read all your blogs on Delhi games from beginning to end and I noticed a change in your views from first one to last and it seemed a positive change. I believe you will agree that these were good games, but could have been greatest ever if our organizers were not all bureaucrats out of touch with real world.

  • Comment number 3.

    John … Glasgow will deliver a great games, am sure Glasgow will have the prayers of the people of India who had prayed that the Delhi games go off smoothly and all our guests return home safely. All the very best.

  • Comment number 4.

    I see it this way John. Common wealth is one big family and we all meet once every 4 years to make merry, party & play some sport. Just because one country is hosting, doesnt mean all other countries sit & wait for it to fail. Else it will become something like 'Come Dine with Me'. Everyone need to realize there is no prize for the best host but its the victory for common wealth unity.

    Come 2014, I want to see all countries join Glasgow to make the event a success. A step forward will be for Glasgow committee to open up some means through which other countries can participate & share ideas. I am all excited for 2014 Commonwealth games.


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