The Herald

Training grounds will provide a golden opportunit­y

- DOUG GILLON

THE 28 Scottish sports facilities included in the London 2012 pre-Olympic training guide, announced yesterday, will be circulated worldwide.

This is the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games’ (LOCOG) seal of approval. It certifies that what is available is fit for purpose.

Lord Coe, chairman of LOCOG, told The Herald that this audit had revealed facilities “which some governing bodies were unaware existed.” However, it is disturbing to learn that 20% of Scottish venues which applied did not measure up.

Countries will use the guide to vet against their requiremen­ts, but sport complexes all over Europe are competing with the UK for pre-Olympic camps. These include venues in France, Germany, the Netherland­s, Belgium, and Spain. Many were used ahead of the Barcelona and Athens Olympics. Flight times from many are comparable with that from central Scotland to London, and they may be climactica­lly more appealing.

USA Track and Field and Australian Paralympia­ns have struck respective deals with Birmingham and a Welsh consortium. Individual sports, as opposed to whole teams including every discipline, are the likely targets for Scotland. Celebrity athletes, or small groups of competitor­s under the same coach, are potential targets. “Scotland should be particular­ly attractive to Commonweal­th nations who will hope to inform their preparatio­ns for Glasgow 2014,” added Lord Coe.

Though some may seek inducement­s, it is worth considerin­g benefits from cultural and sporting exchanges that can be built on such links. Lord Coe used the example of a judo gym he visited in London yesterday. “It will be used for six or seven weeks before the Olympics,” he said. “Kids will be able to watch some of the best players in the world, and inspire the next generation. Those who say there is nothing in it for them, and don't take advantage of it, will be more marginalis­ed.

“We didn’t come to the table in the bidding process with financial assistance for competitor­s because of potential economic impact in Britain. It’s no good having talented competitor­s from all over the world who can only afford to fly in four or five days before the event.”

LOCOG is making grants of up to £25,000 available to local authoritie­s. “That’s our money, which we have raised privately, and it can be used to help attract overseas National Olympic Committees,” he said.

Commercial opportunit­ies far outweigh training camp potential. Half of Olympicrel­ated business so far has gone to firms outside London and the south east and more than 120 Scottish companies have registered with the London 2012 Business Network, designed to match companies and contractor­s.

John Armitt, of the Olympic Delivery Authority, reminded Scottish businessme­n recently that up to £7bn worth of Olympic contracts had still to be tendered for. “68% of such contracts have gone to small to mediumsize­d companies,” he said.

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