CELEBRATIONS of a major milestone on the road to the Glasgow 2014 games have taken place in 11 of the Commonwealth countries.

Young people from across the nations celebrated 500 days until the opening ceremony on July 23 next year by creating the number in large letters.

From the sunshine of Antigua to Australia, snowy Canada and cold London, athletes engraved the number. Gymnasts wrote the number in the Namibian desert, and it was also created on a beach. In St Helena, children wrote the number on a school field.

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In Ontario, 500 was etched into the snow and in the sunshine of the Cayman Islands, young athletes also found a way of commemorating the special occasion.

In Guernsey, innovative youths used shuttlecocks during a badminton lesson to write 500.

In England, London's Big Ben formed the backdrop for staff from the England team and there were cheers at an Olympic museum in Malaysia as the landmark was reached.

The event came after other celebrations at the weekend, with a flash mob choir surprising shoppers at The Barras market and shopping centres and supermarkets in Glasgow's east end where the games will be based.

Councillor Archie Graham, chairman of Glasgow Life and executive member for the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow City Council, said the weekend was a milestone in the city's preparations.

He added: "Everyone in the city will be able to benefit from the Games and we want as many people as possible to get involved. Glaswegians are known the world over for their hospitality and good humour and I have absolutely no doubt that along with our army of volunteers, the people of Glasgow will win over the world."

Meanwhile, Scotland's new single force, Police Scotland, has admitted it will be unable to provide full protection for visitors to next year's Commonwealth Games.

It said it would have to rely heavily on external companies such as the controversial G4S, which forced the organisers of the London 2012 Olympics to use the Army after it failed to recruit sufficient staff.

Police Scotland, which takes over the running of Scotland's eight forces from April 1, confirmed two-thirds of the £90 million set aside for security during the Commonwealth Games would be given over to private firms.

Deputy Chief Constable Steve Allen, who is in charge of police preparations for the Commonwealth Games, said: "As would be familiar with most sporting events, there would be a mix of security."

l The Queen is expected to sign a Commonwealth Charter today that aims to stamp out discrimination against homosexual people. In a speech, she will talk of "shared values of peace, democracy, development, justice and human rights, which are found in our new Commonwealth Charter."