Glasgow really did show us the 'friendly Games'
After a truly Scottish-flavoured 'friendly Games' – for once, truly meant by everyone – Prince Imran handed over the CGF Flag to Gold Coast Mayor, Tom Tate. Queensland Minister for the Commonwealth Games made it clear that Gold Coast was aiming high and that the Commonwealth Games franchise is in the best of hands. Glasgow 2014 was declared the "best ever" by Commonwealth Games Federation President Prince Imran, “Glasgow, you were pure dead brilliant” – whichever dimension he may have had in mind.
Over the next 12 months there will be a number of similar scale and larger multi-sports events around the world, but will they measure up to Glasgow? The Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, the Asian Games in Incheon, Korea; the European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan – where each city has spent up on new venues, some more than others, and each has a competent group of organisers, but do they have that bottling plant to create Games joie de vivre?
It seems that Glasgow played to its strengths and discovered how to make people feel like they mattered. That resets the bar for Gold Coast, maybe. There were plenty of medals but only a few really world class performances…but so what, a great time was had by all.
In terms of exuberance, look at this short video of Usain Bolt .
Lulu set the Closing Ceremony at Hampden Park on its way – designed and produced by Jack Morton, as was the Opening. I’ve always found Auld Lang Syne on bagpipes to be poignant and haunting. The ceremony included a handover segment, to Gold Coast for 2018. That featured Kylie Minogue, so popular in the UK, Jessica Mauboy, plenty of dancers, surfer Mick Fanning and many Queensland-is-great images. I liked the irreverence and spontaneity of Genevieve LaCaze but really, how would she have liked to have a spectator jump into her steeplechase race…? Whatever, kudos to David Atkins and his team – they really found the right ‘spot’ with their design, choreography and outright entertainment.
Glasgow will be sorry the Games were short and are over. The city has an entrenched 25% unemployment rate and while it has gained a fun city reputation in recent years, uplift and new infrastructure has been most valuable. Maybe the Gold Coast will provide a let's-reminisce-Glasgow zone in 2018, bedecked in tartans, with haggis, whiskey and all.
In a post-Games blog for insidethegames, David Grevemberg, CEO of Glasgow 2014 thanks all those who contributed and participated and writes:
“The XX Commonwealth Games captured people's imagination and that's something we don't take for granted. The Organising Committee has been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm the people of Glasgow, Scotland, the UK and the Commonwealth have shown for the Games. There is no doubt the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games has enjoyed real success. That comes down not only to the athletes who have broken records, but also to the individuals, communities, businesses and our partner organisations who have worked hard to ensure the impact of the Games will be felt for many years to come.
The city's environment and infrastructure was improved in preparation for the Games – that includes transport, utilities and of course our sporting venues. One of the reasons Glasgow was awarded the Games was that 70 per cent of its venues were already in situ. Existing venues have been upgraded and new landmark venues, such as the Emirates Arena – which includes the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome – the SSE Hydro and the Glasgow National Hockey Centre have been added to the city. And terrific that the Games linked to support for UNICEF – a first.
Over £300 million has been invested in new and improved sports and Games-related facilities since 2009 and these venues will be a lasting legacy for athletes, coaches, governing bodies, young people and local communities.”
[Strange, elsewhere they talk about a games cost of £600 million….] David will take up a new position later this year as head of the Commonwealth Games Federation.
While the British royal family was very well-received, it does seem that Glaswegians were really pleased and proud to be branded Scottish – and that pride and morale boost has deep value.
Glasgow 2014 hands over to Gold Coast 2018