23rd July 2014

The Commonwealth Games open in Glasgow

Edinburgh hosted Scotland’s first Commonwealth Games in 1970, and again in 1986. Glasgow’s turn came 44 years later, with a 12-day event that saw 4,947 participants competing in 18 different sports.

Three cities had submitted bids to host the games. Halifax, Nova Scotia, was among them, but when its funding was withdrawn only Glasgow and Abuja, Nigeria, went forward to the final vote. Glasgow received 47 votes, to Abuja’s 24. However, there had been speculation that it would have faced broader competition.

A lengthy campaign

The Scottish Government announced that it would be the country’s candidate city on 24 September 2004 – almost ten years before the event – and said that “Scotland and Glasgow may go up against rivals in South Africa, Wales, Singapore, Canada and New Zealand if the council decide to pursue a bid”.

The Glasgow Games’ main venue and the site of the closing ceremony was Hampden Park, although the opening ceremony instead took place in Celtic Park. It kicked off at 9pm and lasted just over two and a half hours. It started with a tour of Scotland, created entirely within the stadium, followed by music, the arrival of the Queen and Prince Philip, then the Parade of Nations, in which a subset of the athletes entered the stadium with their national flags. As the host nation, Scotland was last to enter with Euan Burton carrying the flag.

In total, 2000 performers and athletes took part in the ceremony, which was broadcast on BBC One to an audience of around nine million in the UK alone.

Mixed reviews

The Guardian gave the opening two stars out of a possible five and, the following day, commented that “London 2012 got Danny Boyle; Glasgow 2014 got a clearly nervous Susan Boyle singing Mull of Kintyre and forgetting the words, and John Barrowman in an eye-watering haze of purple tartan.” Glasgow, said reviewer Lyn Gardner, “punches way above its size. But there was little evidence of that extraordinary creativity or imagination in a show that never lacked for heart (largely due to the contribution and evident enjoyment of the volunteers of all ages who took part), but which was often timidly bland and lacking in scale, spectacle and coherence”. But it wasn’t all bad, as “The Scottish terriers accompanying the athletes was another inspired touch, and the only thing nicer than actually biting into a Tunnock’s Teacake is a giant dancing Tunnock’s teacake. Of which there were several.”
The Games closed on 3 August.



Other events that occured in July

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