• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Blue sky thinking required over bid to stage Youth Games in Glasgow

ENOUGH is enough.

Preparations for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, including the building of the Velodrome in Glasgow's Dalmarnock area are well under way but the cost of staging the 2018 Youth Olympic Games  would be astronomical.  Picture: Martin Shields
Preparations for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, including the building of the Velodrome in Glasgow's Dalmarnock area are well under way but the cost of staging the 2018 Youth Olympic Games would be astronomical. Picture: Martin Shields

We have firmly backed the principal of event tourism, whereby the Scottish Government has bankrolled sport and cultural events through Eventscotland. Cost benefit analysis has demonstrated its efficacy. The announcement that Glasgow is bidding to host the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, though, seems several steps too far.

The lure of being designated "Olympic City" seems to have gone to the heads of those who have approved this. It has been acknowledged for some time at Westminster level and in the corridors of the 2012 Olympic organising committee that, had the current economic climate prevailed when London was bidding, there would have been no 2012 bid.

Well, despite the conditions which prevail now, Glasgow is bidding for the YOG. It may not surprise you to learn that no other UK city wanted them. Glasgow is the sole UK candidate, as confirmed by the British Olympic Association.

The city confirmed yesterday that the cost of bidding would be between £1.5m and £2m but would give no figure for the actual cost of staging YOG. No more could Eventscotland. "The actual figure will come out of the process as we work up the bid," said a spokesman. Both declined to comment on our belief that the cost be close to £200m. Reticence is understandable, but silence is the preserve of those with something to hide.

Are we really to believe that Glasgow and Eventscotland have entered this expensive race with no idea of the entry fee? We do hope not. The cost of hosting Glasgow 2014 has escalated from £288m to £530m. The London Olympics and Paralympics were originally budgeted at £2.37bn. It's likely to cost more than five times that.

So it is prudent to be concerned about the cost of the Youth Olympics in Glasgow. The best guide we can give is the inaugural Olympic Youth Games, in Singapore two years ago. They cost £186m, almost three times the original estimate figure. For Glasgow to consider such expenditure in the current climate, when the potential return is miserable, defies belief. Glasgow has had difficulty in finding a host broadcaster for 2014. That's nothing to the difficulty of finding one for the 2018 YOG, when no identifiable celebrity will be competing. They will be equally unattractive to commercial sponsors.

Spectators? Can you imagine a rush for tickets by Scots when the GB team is likely to contain few, if any, Scots? Team GB in Singapore numbered 39. Only two were Scots: the modern pentathlete Kerry Prise from Aberdeenshire, and the triathlete Andrew Hood, from Fife.

There is every danger that Glasgow could win host status. Thus far, other candidates include Glasgow's former Commonwealth Games rivals, Abuja, where Boko Haram, an Islamist group aligned with Al Quaeda, attacked the UN building last August killing 23 people. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office notes a current "high threat of terrorism in Nigeria". Last month the same jihadist group killed 185 people in Kano, some 200 miles from Abuja, and this week explosions and gunfire were reported there prompting FCO to advise against all but essential travel.

Other candidates are:

l Guadalajara, Mexico. F&CO advises that, nationally, "crime and kidnapping can be a problem, particularly in urban areas". The state of Jalisco, of which the city is capital, suffered 593 drug-related killings in 2010. Guadalajara has witnessed isolated grenade attacks and last year road blockades were set up on the main road between the city and its airport;

l Medellin, Colombia, home of an infamous drug cartel. F&CO warn of "a high threat from terrorism. Continued, violent, indiscriminate attacks targeting government and military installations, embassies, public transport, public spaces, and other areas frequented by foreigners occur throughout Colombia";

l Kaspiysk, Russia. F&CO "advise against all travel . . . because of the security situation . . . terrorism and kidnapping in the region are a serious risk". It is notorious for a street bomb a decade ago which killed 40 people including women and children, and injured 133. Five months ago a police officer was killed and more than 60 injured in a bomb blast just 11 miles away in the Dagestan capital, Makhachkala;

l Buenos Aires, Argentina, where anti-British feeling over Falklands issues persist, though there are no F&CO travel restrictions.

Sweden's Olympic Committe have invited Malmo, Gothenburg and Stockholm to consider bidding. If they do, Glasgow might then have a serious rival.

Far better, surely, than forcing Glasgow to sign a blank cheque, would be for this money to be spent as Eventscotland has been doing: by investing in individual events. For the £186m it cost Singapore, Glasgow – Scotland – could host dozens of world, European and Commonwealth championships over a period, all of these would have a far greater beneficial effect on Scotland's economy, and would do far more to establish Scotland's credibility as an international sports venue than the YOG.

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

84794