Olympic parade in Capital looks more likely as talks under way

Gold medalist Libby Clegg celebrates on the podium at the medal ceremony at  the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Picture, Getty
Gold medalist Libby Clegg celebrates on the podium at the medal ceremony at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Picture, Getty
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Hopes have risen dramatically that a parade will be held in the Capital to celebrate the success of Scotland’s Olympic athletes.

Top-level talks are ongoing between council chiefs and sports bosses to make sure the public get a chance to welcome the heroes of Rio.

It is understood a parade would hail not only Olympians but also Paralympians, such as Libby Clegg, a former pupil at Edinburgh’s Royal Blind School, won gold at the Paralympic 100 metres.

Sportscotland announced plans last month for an event at the new Oriam national sports performance centre at Heriot-Watt University, but it will take place in a 400-capacity sports hall on a Wednesday afternoon.

And there were immediate calls for a bigger event, such as an open-top bus parade through the city, on a day when the public would have a chance to show their appreciation.

Allan Wells MBE, who won gold in the 100m sprint at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, was among those calling for a parade.

A full meeting of the city council unanimously backed an emergency motion from Lord Provost Donald Wilson calling for a public celebration.

And now talks are being held between the council and the sports body. Neither side would say much beyond confirming the fact they were taking place.

But one council source said: “It’s almost certain there will be some sort of parade. They don’t want to make any concrete plans until the Paralympics are over and we know what success there has been there.

“But the motion that was passed at the council said it should be for both the Olympic and Paralympic athletes.”

It is understood city leisure leader Richard Lewis is due to meet sports minister Aileen Campbell in the next week or two to discuss an Olympic parade among other issues.

Lothian Green MSP and former athlete Alison Johnstone said the fact that talks were taking place suggested Sportscotland now accepted there was a need for more than the invitation-only event at Oriam.

“Clearly there is a lot of support for such a parade,” she said. “If it’s going to happen it would be good to hear about it as soon as possible and publicise a date so people can have as much time as they need to plan and make sure they are able to attend.”

She welcomed the apparent plan to make the celebration a joint event for Olympians and Paralympians. And she said the date would have to depend on athletes’ commitments. But she urged a move to hold the parade sooner rather than later.

She said: “It’s mid-September now and at some point we will be into the colder days and darker nights. It would be nice to have it before it all becomes too autumnal.”

Sportscotland said discussions had been constructive and were expected to conclude “in the near future”.

A spokesman said the Oriam event planned for September 28 would give the children and young people attending from across Scotland “incredible” access to the athletes.”

A council spokesman said the talks were “ongoing”.