Tuesday, 19 October 2010

S'miles Better

If you saw hundreds of people dressed in tartan running towards you what would you do? Run away? That's what I'd do.

I don't know what people at the Delhi Closing Ceremony thought, but I enjoyed Glasgow's short piece inviting people to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in the city. It was full of energy; it showed lots of young and excited people smiling and happy and yes it was bagpipes and tartan, but that's what people identify with Scotland.

I find myself explaining to people that Baron de Coubertin, who revived the Olympics in the late nineteenth century, wanted to combine sport and culture. So today at the two ceremonies to open and close the Games they demonstrate the host's culture.

Some people believe the Olympics and other international events should be like school sports days, with all the emphasis on the sport and the winners. Today large sporting events are about entertainment as more people watch them on tv or on-line than will ever attend them.

World class events are also about politics. Both Australia and China made their point about what they saw as their place in the world at their Olympic ceremonies.

Yes, we want more people involved in sport, but an event with a global audience has huge economic potential for the local economy. Manufacturing, food, hospitality, tourism and the creative industries are just some of the sectors that can benefit.

Glasgow worked hard to be designated a European City of Culture, a City of Architecture and in 2014 it will be a host for the Commonwealth Games. The city has realised the economic value of these accolades in helping to change people's perceptions.

So, the tartan gauntlet is down for London and the UK in 2012. Will we meet the challenge?

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