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"Team Scotland" would compete at Rio 2016 Olympics, ex-First Minister claims

Scottish athletes would have 'no obvious barriers' to competing for their newly independent country at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the event of a Yes vote, a report led by a former First Minister has concluded.

Sir Chris Hoy opposes a Scottish Olympic squad
Sir Chris Hoy opposes a Scottish Olympic squad

Former Labour politician Henry McLeish said in his long-awaited report into the future of sport the focus should be on the smooth transition from Team GB for those sportsmen and women who wish to compete for Scotland.

The games would take place in August 2016, some four months after First Minister Alex Salmond's date for Scotland to be  independence day in March of that year.

Mr McLeish said any participation would still be subject to an application meeting the International Olympic Committee's timetable.

However, the former First Minister added that based on the experience of other newly-formed states, the authorities should ensure they are in a position to qualify for Brazil.

He wrote in the 53-page document: "There is a well-established application process and no obvious barriers to Scotland participating in the Olympics or Para-Olympics.

"By putting athletes needs first there are opportunities to build on the support already in place for international athletes to develop a successful Team Scotland on the Olympic and Paralympic stage."

Six-time Olympic gold medal winning former cyclist Sir Chris Hoy has been critical of attempts to create a separate Scotland squad. The Edinburgh-born Team GB star said in 2012 it is possible to compete as both "Scottish and British" in the Olympics,

The report, titled: 'The continuing development of Scottish Sport - including the impact of Independence' published this evening also called for more effort to ensure communities benefit from "substantial" improvements to facilities and in schools.

It slated the current access for communities involved in sport to participate in school facilities as 'unacceptable' and said local councils must remedy it.

The document said effort is required to ensure all groups, especially those in the most deprived areas, benefit from new and existing assets.

It said Scotland's over-complicated sports governance and funding structures need to be simplified and the relationship between funding and growing participation is unclear.

He called for the government to consider future spending as a cost saving exercise against health and other budgets.

Among other recommendations, the report said the national agency, sportscotland needs to better understand the role and levels of coaching.

Sports minister Shona Robison said the document "shows Scotland will continue to be a sporting success on the world stage."

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