SIR Chris Hoy has been placed at the centre of an unseemly political row over whether the Capital or Glasgow should play host to the Olympic medallist’s homecoming parade.
The Scottish Government has revealed that Scotland’s London 2012 heroes, including six-time gold medal winner Sir Chris, rowing champion Katherine Grainger and canoeist David Florence, will receive a rousing reception at a public event when they arrive home.
However, the exact location of the celebration has already become a bone of contention between city councillors and their Glasgow counterparts, whose city hosts the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
No decision has yet been made on where to host the parade and council officials in both cities refused to say whether they would be pushing to host the official event. But that did not stop politicians staking a claim to host the Olympic heroes in their city.
John McLaughlin, SNP councillor for Shettleston, said Glasgow was the “sporting hub of Scotland” and that people in the west were “more vibrant and exciting” than their compatriots in the Capital.
“There’s the Chris Hoy Velodrome in the East End of Glasgow and so here is the logical place to have it,” he said.
David Meikle, Conservative councillor for Pollokshields, claimed Sir Chris himself would support a Glasgow reception. He said: “Sir Chris is such a humble person that even though Edinburgh is his home town, he will see the significance of having the parade in Glasgow because of the Commonwealth Games, the Olympic venue at Hampden and the fact it’s the biggest city in Scotland.”
Meanwhile, Ken Andrew, SNP councillor for Hillhead, called on Edinburgh to be “magnanimous” and step aside – allowing the event to act as a “starting gun” for the 2014 Games.
However, politicians in the Capital showed no sign of backing down today, saying they were in favour of a repeat of 2008, when Scotland’s champions of Beijing travelled along the Royal Mile in an open-top bus before attending a reception at Edinburgh Castle.
Labour councillor Paul Godzik, who represents Meadows/Morningside, said: “Edinburgh is the natural place, given that it’s the capital city and home to Chris Hoy, who’s had such a fantastic Games.”
Bill Henderson, SNP councillor for Pentland Hills, said Edinburgh was the “most fitting” location. “My view is that we should welcome the Olympians to the capital city of Scotland,” he said.
“I believe I’m right in saying that most of the athletes who won gold are from this area, so it’s logical to hold it here.”
Colin Keir, SNP MSP for Edinburgh Western, added: “If we’re looking for an inspirational venue to say thank you to these inspirational athletes, Edinburgh is the most appropriate. It’s no slight on Glasgow – we’ll be fully supportive of the Commonwealth Games, which will be fantastic, but to recognise these people you can’t get a better place than Edinburgh.”
Deputy city council leader and festivals and events champion, Steve Cardownie, said the council was still looking at various ways to celebrate the Scottish Olympians.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government refused to comment on the location of the event, but said that plans were still being worked on.