Friendly city set for ‘friendly’ Commonwealth Games and more than 100,000 visitors

Scotland’s biggest city promises a warm welcome to guests and athletes attending the 20th Commonwealth Games, which begin with opening ceremonies on Wednesday night.

Banners advertising the 2014 Commonwealth Games are pictured in Glasgow in Scotland ahead of the start of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The Commonwealth Games begin in Glasgow on July 23, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ANDY BUCHANAN
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GLASGOW // Scotland’s biggest city promises a warm welcome to more than 100,000 guests and athletes attending the 20th Commonwealth Games, which begin with opening ceremonies on Wednesday night.

“The Friendly Games have come to the friendly city,” said Gordon Matheson, the city’s council leader.

“Glasgow’s always ready to welcome the world.”

In the city’s George Square, the sense of anticipation was growing ahead of Wednesday night’s opening.

A queue snaked in front of a makeshift ticket office, while tourists posed for pictures in front of the square’s new focal point, a sculpture of the Games logo.

Early risers were treated to the Queen’s baton, the Games’ equivalent of the Olympic torch, being zip-lined across the Clyde River from the top of the Finnieston Crane, a reminder of a time when the city produced one-fifth of the world’s ships and a quarter of its locomotives.

The area’s massive regeneration project also includes the Athletes Village, which will be turned into 700 mixed-tenancy homes after the Games.

Matheson points to the 5,000 jobs created as a result of the Games and new infrastructure projects that the event spawned, which helped insulate Glasgow from the recent economic crisis.

“Having the Games forced us to do the right thing as a city, which is to invest in the long-term,” he said.

Gareth Williams, head of policy for a business lobby group, the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, said he hopes the event will make Scotland a leader in event management.

However, with the opening ceremony within touching distance, the focus is now on fun.

“It’s going to be watched by more than a billion people and it’s going to be magnificent,” Matheson said.

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