Glassgow can outshine the success of the London Olympics by staging an even better Commonwealth Games, Alex Salmond has claimed.
Scotland’s SNP First Minister told me that he was confident Glasgow could emulate the capital after copying the best parts of 2012.
Mr Salmond said: “London has set a very high bar. It will be our task over the next 10 days to see if we can leap over that bar.”
The 20th Commonwealth Games opening ceremony tonight has been masterminded by Jack Morton Worldwide, the London firm that also oversaw the Olympics.
It will include performances from Rod Stewart, Susan Boyle, Amy Macdonald and classical violinist Nicola Benedetti.
A dress rehearsal of the ceremony at Celtic Park was held on Monday night. Attendees were asked to keep its contents secret – just as those attending the previews of Danny Boyle’s 2012 opening spectacular were asked to do.
It is understood that tonight’s ceremony will attempt to avoid official formalities and be guided by tongue-in-cheek Glaswegian humour and the warm welcome traditionally shown by the city.
An insider said a list of “no go” areas had been ripped up and discarded – with each “taboo” being gently mocked.
It will also emphasise the nature of a “common wealth” by encouraging £5 donations to Unicef to tackle child poverty in developing nations.
Mr Salmond said he had not managed to speak to Boris Johnson in advance of the Games but said Commonwealth organisers had been able to draw on the assistance of leading figures in London 2012. “The hands-on experience we got has been extremely valuable,” he said.
He said the baton relay, which took the Commonwealth baton to each of Scotland’s 33 council regions and across the Highlands and Islands, had drawn directly from the nationwide tour of the 2012 Olympic torch.
Mr Salmond said the £575 million Games would inspire healthier lifestyles in a nation notorious for high rates of obesity and heart disease. He said it was good value compared to the “£7 billion” spent staging the London Olympics.
“This is something that will change lives, and change them for the better,” he said.”I think it’s £575 million well spent.”