This year’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games was on the receiving end of widespread praise from athletes, the media and sports administrators alike, with Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Mike Hooper even hailing it as “the standout Games in the history of the movement.”
71 teams and nearly 5,000 athletes took part in the Games, which was held across 13 venues. The Games went off smoothly and was heralded as a success with large attendances at every event and 1.2 million tickets sold.
Vice Chair of the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee, Louise Martin, has been a part of Glasgow 2014 from the very beginning. She was the first woman to be Chair of Commonwealth Games Scotland (CGS) and was awarded the CBE in 2003 for services to the Games.
“It feels absolutely fantastic and to see the fruition from the idea, to the bid, to winning the bid, to where we are now, it’s the journey that we planned meticulously and it’s worked,” she told HOST CITY in Glasgow.
“From the bid phase, which we launched in 2004, to actual delivery, in that time we managed to make sure that every single venue was finished two years prior to today. So in 2012 all our venues were finished, operational and had been used by the general public. So that in itself, to me, is worth its weight in gold.”
The Commonwealth Games has been struggling to attract potential host cities in recent years, with the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) calling an emergency meeting in Kuala Lumpur in January as no member country had entered a bid for the 2022 Games just two months prior to the deadline. The extensive list of controversies surrounding the 2010 Delhi Games and the huge cost involved with hosting a Games have been some of the reasons cited for the lack of interest, especially considering the Commonwealth includes some of world’s least economically developed nations.
However, Martin is overwhelmingly positive about the event and believes the way in which Glasgow has been successfully delivered can provide a lesson for future Games and may encourage more nations to become involved with hosting. “One of the reasons we bid for this is that we’re a small country, five million people and we wanted to demonstrate that small countries can host these things and stay in budget,” she says.
“We delivered a phenomenal opening ceremony and we were on budget, really on the target, and it wasn’t over the top. We didn’t have all the stuff flying around the sky; we kept it culturally towards what we are, this fun-loving, cheeky nation. The athletes enjoyed the ceremony, they were central to the whole thing and this is what we wanted to do the whole way through.”
This year’s Games has been almost universally praised and Martin believes this have been down to a mixture of Glasgow’s welcoming atmosphere and the work done by the organising committee to create a slickly run Games with the best facilities. She says: “I just think because it’s in Scotland, it’s the friendly Games and the family Games, we all speak the same language so therefore there are no hidden feelings, where we see people we see friends, we’re all one big happy family.
“The way these 15,000 Clyde-siders have been working and the way the Glasgow public and Scottish public have just taken this to heart as well. It’s a combination of facilities being ready, the people in Glasgow, the workforce: it’s one big jigsaw and its come together.”
The next Commonwealth Games will be held in Gold Coast City, Australia in 2018 whilst the 2022 edition of the Games will be hosted either by the South African city of Durban or the Canadian city of Edmonton. With the announcement of the winning bid less than a year away, both cities have been upping the ante in order to secure the Games.
“My advice would be, know what you want to do, know what you want to deliver, ensure that your plans are absolutely in place and your budget is set before you put your bid in – because once you’ve got your bidding document, it makes it easy in the transition from bidding to the organising committee and then you can start to move and do it very quickly,” says Martin.
Shortly before the start of the Glasgow Games, teams from Durban and Edmonton visited the city to present at the Commonwealth Games Federation General Assembly. Durban put on an in-depth presentation, utilising government ministers and videos referencing the late Nelson Mandela whilst Edmonton took the approach of a simple address by the bid chairman. Edmonton’s lack of presentation led some sections of the media pronouncing Durban as the more serious bid but Martin disagrees.
“Whether they are bullish or not you’ll have to wait and see, it’s what they actually put down on paper and what they actually can produce for the evaluation commission that counts. The city that will be chosen will be the one that can deliver a really, really good Games to the standard that we’re looking for and as far as I’m concerned the standard that’s here: it’s simple, it’s enjoyable, it’s affordable and it’s doable.”
Glasgow 2014 has also made a fine example of how to maximise the host nation’s sporting performance on home soil, an important factor for many host cities. Scotland achieved a record 19 gold medals in Glasgow, placing them fourth on the medals table.
“We’ve left nothing to chance,” says Martin. “We’ve been working with these athletes for the last five years, with all the coaches and all the scientists behind them and each individual athlete has had a special programme, nothing has been left to chance. So the delivery of Team Scotland at the moment has been planned and we have actually achieved what we’ve set out to achieve.”