What is the legacy of the Commonwealth Games 2014 for Scotland and the UK?
One of the conditions that are imposed if you are hosting an event on this scale, such as the Olympics or Commonwealth Games is the legacy. If you look at the Olympics, there has been some disappointment despite the great triumph that they were, that many of the training facilities that these athletes used to train are now closing due to funding drying up. You can’t get to Olympic or Commonwealth standard with the basic facilities. I can only hope that facilities around Scotland don’t have to close but the worry is that people say we aspire to do even better next time, you even know where the next biggest success will come from so it is unfortunate when local councils have to cut the funding.
Theoretically we are all signed up for a very good legacy and I can only hope it happens, but there is a risk that funding dries up.
I have visited a few of the sites and from what I have seen the East End of Glasgow has got a lot from the Games, both in terms of the velodrome and also the gymnastics centre, there has also been a lot of building of houses for example the athletes village Glasgow and in particular the East End have had a lot of money put into them.
I have no authority over this but from what I have seen a lot of local people were contacted for work relating to the games.
The real legacy of the games is we going to produce the next generation of medal winners. About 20% of the Scottish athletes are based in England and are making use and training in the joint facilities.
That is one of the things these days, the facilities you need to get someone to Olympic and Commonwealth standard is difficult to replicate, even in a country the size of the UK. We cannot provide top of the range facilities in every area for every sport, although we do try.
Then overall lasting legacy is sport, starting at a grass root level in schools getting children involved and enjoying it. Just because you are enjoying something doesn’t mean you are destined to be the next medal winner.
What is your view of jobs created prior, during and post games?
A lot of the jobs created were temporary as you need something to run something.
How do you think national sporting events have an effect on tourism and the visibility of Scotland on the global stage?
We have the annual Edinburgh Festival which started just after the WW2 and the Fringe followed in the 1960’s, there is nothing else like it and it is the biggest of its kind in the world. The Festival and Fringe will always be here as it is just what Edinburgh does. Edinburgh now has a Science Festival, TV and film festival which is separate to the festival and fringe; it used to be all held in August but has since been spread out over the summer months to distribute tourism. If you have a basic infrastructure, like we do here so there is no doubt in my mind that Edinburgh and Scotland could host more events.
There is not limit, the only constraints are who will pay for it but as long as there is sponsorship there is no reason why we can’t keep putting them on.
What do you think can be put in place and how can we as a nation sustain the momentum that the games created?
You can’t think in terms of big stadiums you need to start at the basics, for example if someone at school in Edinburgh doesn’t have access to basic sport in school, or in a club they can’t be part of something bigger sporting wise, either competitively, health wise or socially.
Creating more events such as the fringe or can we bid for other national events?
I suppose the world is your oyster really, the commonwealth games goes turnabout for north and south hemisphere. We have actually done really well. The commonwealth countries have made a point that is doesn’t always have to come to the UK. As far as I am aware there is no bar on you bidding, you can bid as many times as you want, but giving that there were 71 countries present this is I suspect that 70 of them will say it is our turn and you can’t blame them for it. Although a lot countries of just couldn’t put it on due to logistics, Scotland and the UK have years of experience with hosting large scale events, I think that is why we tend to get a lot of them as we do it well. You have to think of things like security and just the logistics of moving people around, I hope we get it back again.
Golf is another large scale event we have hosted. People always come back to golf courses and Scotland tends to have quite good ones.
Going forward, what do you think is a realistic aim for Scotland – we have held the Games, Ryder Cup
- Education – any good teacher will tell you using topical things to explain something has greater power. It doesn’t matter what you teach these events have such a large impact on the country you can use it as a peg. The Olympics were held two years ago and people are still talking about it.
How do you think the job sector in Scotland is changing?
Tourism generally employs, generates and contributes as much as wealth the financial industries sector, and is about 10% of the Scottish economy. In the last ten years there has been a massive increase in people visiting Scotland, from long haul or even short weekend breaks. Although Scotland isn’t a cheap place to visit, hotel prices are high especially in Edinburgh. I have been speaking to people who work in tourism on the West Coast and the majority of visitors are coming from England for short breaks as it’s not far.
How important do you think sport events are on the mood of a nation?
I think when people watch sports that are being held in their home city or country like in Glasgow, you do feel a sense of ownership, a bit more than if it were taking place in France or the USA. Generally speaking I think it is good, I am sure the majority of people would say the Games were a great success, but I’m not so sure it would change your view of the world. We have had a very unusual experience that Scotland had the game and great weather, the weather tends to put people in a better mood.
What do you think the effect and legacy of the Ryder Cup will be?
I think the Commonwealth Games might have a largest effect and legacy as they are much bigger and can attract a wider audience. People do like to think their country is doing okay and we are, in a sporting front for sure.
What do you think the prospects for young graduates and professionals are in Scotland?
Unemployment levels have just fallen again, although pay isn’t increasing, which can have an effect of the public spending, as people just don’t have the money to spend as they aren’t paid as much as they would have been ten or so years ago. A lot of young professionals and graduates are being offer short term contracts and on low wages. Whilst it is good that people are in work than being unemployed, what worries me is that people are effectively taking wage cuts. This is happening across Europe, 50% of what we as a country sell is to Europe, if they don’t have the money to spend this can have a massive effect. I always thought the fallout from the financial crisis seven years ago was going to be far more profound than originally thought.