Massive open-air party for Edinburgh to celebrate heroes of Rio Olympics

A MASSIVE open-air party is being planned in Edinburgh to celebrate the achievements of Scotland's Olympic heroes, the Evening News can reveal.

Friday, 16th September 2016, 8:35 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 2:34 pm
Scottish Olympic Athletes return home from Beijing. Picture: TSPL

The public event will take place in Festival Square later this month – with a host of big-name sports stars expected to attend.

The move comes after the News and Lord Provost Donald Wilson led calls for the public to be given a chance to show their appreciation.

Sportscotland previously revealed a glitzy party would be held at Oriam, the new national sporting facility at Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton, on September 28 – but confirmed only a handful of the general public would be given access to the 400-capacity sports hall.

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Olympic legend Allan Wells and other leading sports figures joined in criticism of the exclusive event – and now a free party will be held in the city centre earlier that same day.

Invites have been sent out to every athlete with a Scottish connection, including Andy Murray, Callum Skinner and Katherine Grainger.

A source close to the event confirmed a special PA system would be set up in the square, with a host on hand to hype up the crowd and interview Olympians.

And they said there would be plenty of meet-and-greet opportunities for fans to get close to their icons – and grab some obligatory selfies.

It is understood Olympic athletes will be staying at the Sheraton hotel before the event, making the square outside the perfect location.

A party was chosen over a parade to make the event as accessible as possible to Paralympians and other residents with disabilities.

The source said: “The athletes will come and circulate. There will be more opportunity to meet them than there would have been if it was an open-top bus parade. I think it’s a really good solution.”

City bosses are expected to make an official announcement about the plans today, with further details unveiled in the coming weeks.

Around 50,000 people came out to cheer on Scotland’s Olympic sports stars after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, cramming themselves on to the Royal Mile to watch the likes of Sir Chris Hoy and Katherine Grainger wave from an open-top bus.

Similar scenes were witnessed post-London 2012 as Lothian’s athletes made their way through the city by bus, lapping up adoration from the public who had come out to show their support.

This summer’s Games saw Great Britain set an Olympic record by scooping 67 medals at Rio – two more than in London 2012. The achievement marked the first time any country has increased its medal tally at the summer Games immediately following the one it hosted.