The Olympic mission has been passed on to Rio de Janeiro, but the first major stop for the athletic caravan, or for some of it at least, is the Commonwealth Games of 2014.
London is a hard act to follow and Glasgow will not try to do so in scale or in expenditure. The Olympic Games of 2012 may be remembered as the best ever with outstanding performances, most conspicuously from Team GB, but Glasgow need not shrink from the challenge of staging an individualistic event far removed from the overblown elements that accompany the biggest show on earth.
Glasgow 2014 is not in competition with London 2012. That would be a battle that was one-sided, but the Commonwealth Games has its own merits and Glasgow has the opportunity to capitalise on these and use some of the lessons from London to ensure 2014 is both memorable and productive.
There are five main areas that must be addressed or exploited in the light of the London experience.
1 – The notion of a legacy must be addressed and it must be investigated now. Glasgow 2014 will inspire youngsters to take up sport. Indeed, this should be its prime purpose. This is happening already in the wake of London 2012 but the infrastructure at the bottom level is not yet able to cope with a vast influx of numbers. The Prime Minister has committed to continuing spending on athletics. Frankly, it would have been political suicide to do otherwise, but money must be spent on the foundation level. Briefly, children must have facilities to play in and have inspiring coaches at foundation level. Scotland must prepare for the 2014 children who want to emulate the performances on track, velodrome or in the swimming pool.
2 – There has to be realism about 2014. This is a concept that seems to have been grasped by the organisers. It will not be an Olympic Games. Sir Chris Hoy may not grace his velodrome in competition, Usain Bolt may have other pressing engagements, though he seemed gently engaged by 2014 at the weekend. But there is a raft of Commonwealth talent. More than 150 Commonwealth sportsmen and sportswomen won medals in London and there is a vast pool that will ensure Glasgow enjoys top-class entertainment. The Commonwealth Games cannot match the Olympics in breadth and depth of excellence but they will have a smattering of the great and a substantial level of the very good. For example, David Rudisha will be 25 in Glasgow and there is the potential for a full Hampden watching the Kenyan 800 metres world record holder.
3 – Glasgow must have a narrative. London's story was of a great city overcoming its vastness, its chaos to become intimate and friendly over a fortnight. It succeeded despite a mass of negative pre-Games comment. The story of Glagow 2014 will unfold over the next few years but it will include a deep strain of inclusion. This will be the Games for all with para events included and a desire to show the city as a place that offers a genuine welcome.
4 – London failed in only one major respect. There were severe, sustained problems over ticketing. The Olympics comes with obligations to sponsors who bankroll an incredible jamboree and tickets were therefore allocated to people who, frankly, could not be bothered to turn up. This was also reflected in the number of courtesy cars that lay unused.
Tickets, too, had to be given away for the Olympic football at Hampden. This was a major opportunity lost by the Olympic organisers. There is more than a suspicion that if the ticket issue had been handled by Hampden management then a solution would have been found far in advance to fill the ground with a mixture of low pricing and free giveaways to clubs and schools.
The ticketing issue at Glasgow 2014 must be addressed now. There must be a strategy to fill venues with an imperative that youngsters be encouraged to view events across the board.
The marvel of a Commonwealth Games is that it may just inspire a youngster in the East End of Glasgow that cycling is his passion rather than football. Scotland has its heroes already for 2014. Hoy may not compete but must be used in an ambassadorial role and Michael Jamieson, the Bishopbriggs swimmer, is an ideal poster boy.
Lynsey Sharp, at 22, will look forward to 2014 with expectation and Eilish McColgan, who is 21, can join her in engaging the attention of girls who want to run for fun or for glory.
5 – The most significant phenomenon of London 2012 was the involvement of an army of Games Makers. These 70,000 volunteers were wholly committed to ensuring spectators, athletes and media enjoyed the experience of an Olympic Games. The volunteer ethos will be used in Glasgow and it is an opportunity for individuals to experience the wonder of an international event.
Glasgow, too, is ideally suited to hosting an event. There is a national tendency to linger on the dark side but Glasgow is a friendly city. It is a city, too, that has been praised for handling European cup finals. It is a city that is revisited by the French, Spanish and German supporters who have watched those finals over the decades. This attitude and disposition of the inhabitants should be harnessed to the Commonwealth Games. This will be an event for all and all should be able to take part, whether directing crowds or being able to buy a seat at a reasonable price.
Glasgow cannot match London in scale or pomp but has the opportunity to look back on its Games with a bigger smile. This ambition will only be realised if the nation embraces the Games and the politicians ensure there is a tangible legacy. Bring it on.