The countdown to the Commonwealth Games is now well and truly under way and there is already a buzz building in Edinburgh as we head towards the summer.
This is a huge year for Scotland and for Edinburgh and I am very proud that, as a co-host, we are playing our part in the celebrations.
The cultural impact the competition has for Scotland is significant. Edinburgh is already world renowned for its heritage and great programme of festivals, but this year it will be the Games, Festival and referendum that turn the spotlight on the Capital.
It is vitally important that everyone at home has the chance to join in the fun and champion Team Scotland and our Edinburgh-born and based athletes.
As home of the 1970 and 1986 Games, this year Edinburgh is in the unique position of being the only city to host a Commonwealth Games event for the third time when the diving competitions come to the recently refurbished Royal Commonwealth Pool.
On June 14, we are thoroughly looking forward to welcoming the Queen’s Baton Relay to Edinburgh – its first port of call in Scotland. The city has over 100 baton bearers, including a pupil from every secondary school, who will play an important part in the celebrations taking place throughout the day. I was fortunate enough to be on the selection committee for Edinburgh and was hugely impressed with the standard of nominations.
We are also encouraging families to join in the celebrations by lining the streets and, if they’re feeling fit, to take part in our School Run through Holyrood Park.
The event will culminate in Meadowbank Stadium, where a “Tryathon” will offer children and young people the chance to try their hand at 15 Commonwealth Games sports in the company of a host of sporting stars – not to mention the Queen’s Baton.
The Sportscotland “support a 2nd team project” is also an opportunity for Edinburgh residents to celebrate and engage with Commonwealth territories and nations, and the council’s Activity and Active Schools programmes have already been getting behind our second team, New Zealand, by launching a Virtual Flashmob Haka dance and chant in partnership with Edinburgh’s Dancebase.
But the impact of the Games shouldn’t and won’t end in July. Later in the year, Edinburgh’s annual Festival of Sport will be a bumper fortnight of free activities for everyone to get involved in.
Following the excitement of the Games, this will be the perfect opportunity to try new sports and find out about the sports clubs in and around Edinburgh. The Festival is also an opportunity to turn the spotlight on the great sporting venues we have in the city and the real variety of sports that are available.
We can also look forward to a special Sporting Edinburgh exhibition at The Museum of Edinburgh on the Royal Mile, which will showcase the history and heritage of Edinburgh’s sports and stars, and the art installation Where Do I End And You Begin will launch to celebrate Scotland’s ties with the Commonwealth at the City Art Centre.
This summer Edinburgh will be hosting, funding and supporting a wide programme of events and the Games is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate our modern and vibrant culture, and to help to deliver a legacy that citizens in Edinburgh can feel proud of.
• Councillor Steve Cardownie is Festivals and Events Champion