European Championships 2018

– in the Scottish Parliament on 4th September 2018.

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Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

The final item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S5M-13532, in the name of Bill Kidd, on Glasgow and Berlin’s successful European championships 2018. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament recognises what it sees as the highly successful 2018 European Championships, held jointly during August by the host cities of Glasgow and Berlin; notes that this will be the first of a four-yearly cycle of these European Championships, which are expected to be a highlight of the global sporting calendar; is aware that Glasgow held the aquatics, golf, gymnastics, rowing, triathlon and cycling competitions, including the highly successful BMX cycling events held at the new facility, which is the first of its kind in Scotland, in Knightswood in the west of the city, and congratulates the winners, competitors and hundreds of volunteers who made these Championships so special and such a huge success for those attending and the hundreds of millions watching on TV across Europe.

Photo of Bill Kidd Bill Kidd Scottish National Party

Today, I would like to bring forward the Glasgow 2018 European championships for debate in the Scottish Parliament. The inaugural championships were based between Glasgow and Berlin from 2 to 12 August this year.

First, I congratulate all the medallists from whichever country they came, but with particular note to Scottish gold medallists Laura Muir, Eilish McColgan, Grace Reid and Duncan Scott, and with further note to silver and bronze medallists James Wilby, Katie Archibald and Jack Carlin. They contributed to team Great Britain and Northern Ireland ranking in second place in the championships and winning the most medals overall.

I am sure that the inaugural championships will be followed by many more and I hope that they return to Scotland soon. The European championships saw some of our best home-grown sporting talent perform on the world stage from locations that we know, such as the SSE Hydro, Strathclyde country park, Gleneagles and Loch Lomond, as well as from newer debut locations such as the Glasgow BMX centre in Knightswood, which I will mention more than once. I just thought that I would throw that in.

I am proud that two of the venues that were used in the championships are based in my constituency of Glasgow Anniesland, and I take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers—including Lorraine Harper, who bought me a pint of beer on the basis that I would mention her name—who were involved in making the sporting events operate so well and efficiently. Many of the volunteers were my constituents, and their enthusiasm lifted the events and showed international visitors true Scottish spirit and a welcome to our country.

I am speaking here today because I want to highlight why international sporting events are good for Scotland and to encourage the people of Scotland to engage in the active legacy of these events simply by participating in sport. From our sports to our natural environment and our rich culture, we have been able to showcase some of the best of Scotland to the world. At the same time, we have once again brought some of the best sporting talent to Scotland.

We are a nation with an international outlook. Sporting events such as the European championships and, looking back to 2014, the Commonwealth games evidence that. Such events are inherently good for Scotland. International sporting events build a legacy for our country in which we can all participate. They inspire us and make us want to go further. Even examples such as the open-water swimming in Loch Lomond can—maybe—make some of us want to explore the natural beauty of Scotland, which we all know and love, in a new and daring way. Although I would not necessarily take on Loch Lomond, I have been inspired by the events, and I hope that my colleagues in the Parliament and the people of Scotland have, too.

Looking at the facts, I can see that there is a shared response. Since the Commonwealth games, there has been an upward trend in sport participation, and the positive impact can still be seen today. The national governing body for athletics in Scotland, scottishathletics, which has approximately 150 athletics clubs across the country, recently reported a 10 per cent increase in athletics clubs membership. There has also been a surge in cycling. That has been highlighted by the 21 per cent rise in Scottish Cycling memberships. Sustrans, which was recently awarded £27 million in Scottish Government funding, has helped to pave the way for cycle-friendly cities and it provides route maps for exploring the whole of Scotland.

This country has a lot to offer. We are blessed with our natural landscape, which offers bountiful opportunities for mountain walking, biking, hiking, bouldering and shinty playing. If people cannot yet embrace swimming the length of Loch Lomond, they can at least try kayaking or sailing. Perhaps they could explore the hidden gems and beautiful beaches that can be found across Scotland’s 10,000km of coastline.

Because of major international sporting events leaving their footprints in new venues, there is a growing number of world-class sports centres available for our constituents to enjoy. We have not only Europe’s largest climbing centre at the Edinburgh international climbing arena in Ratho outside Edinburgh, but the Glasgow BMX centre in Knightswood, which is part of my constituency. I have now mentioned it twice, so I think that that is due me a wee training run on the BMX bikes.

The Glasgow BMX centre in Knightswood—three times—is a good example of the active legacy that comes directly from last month’s European championships. The creation of a facility for a budding sport, which was officially adopted by the Olympics in 2008 and is now extremely popular among young adults, provides essential space for the development of new skills. The Glasgow BMX centre was purpose built last year and it means that Glasgow is the only city in the world that has venues that are capable of hosting all four Olympic cycling disciplines—BMX, mountain biking, road and track. The centre will also be the new home for the Western Titans BMX Club as it relocates from Clydebank.

Another direct and active legacy of the European championships is the £0.5 million that was announced by the Scottish Government earlier this year for sportscotland to build on the momentum of Glasgow 2018. The funding will be invested in sportscotland’s community sports hubs to offer easily accessible venues throughout the country.

As a final note, I suggest that people should be inspired and get involved. They should try a new sport, join a club or simply go for a walk in our beautiful countryside. Everything is open to us in Scotland; let us use it.

Photo of Sandra White Sandra White Scottish National Party

I congratulate Bill Kidd on securing the debate, and I thank and congratulate the many people who worked so hard and tirelessly to deliver the events.

I welcome the debate.

The European championships were held in Glasgow, and the city centre in particular was absolutely buzzing. I say that because Glasgow city centre has been through some major events recently, so it was great to have the championships so that Glaswegians and the rest of Scotland could celebrate and showcase our amazing talent and culture. My constituency of Glasgow Kelvin played a great part in that.

Bill Kidd talked about Berlin and Glasgow. The European championships include athletics, aquatics, cycling, gymnastics, rowing, triathlon and the new golf team championship. It is all quite breathtaking, and it would be good if some of us could enter into it. I went along to some of the events and they were fantastic: people were being welcomed with open arms. Our venues held the aquatic events, cycling, rowing and triathlon, while Berlin hosted the athletics. There were 4,500 athletes competing, which is quite a number.

Glasgow is currently ranked number 5 in the world in the SportBusiness ultimate sports city awards. It is also the number 1 city in the world in SBUSCA’s legacy category, which reflects its outstanding and long-standing commitment to increasing participation, as Bill Kidd mentioned, and to creating new sporting opportunities for citizens. That started off during the lead up to the 2014 Commonwealth games. I will come back to talk about the legacy when I am finishing up.

We have mentioned the people who arranged the championships, but special mention must go to the thousands of volunteers, who were absolutely fantastic. The championship volunteers—team 2018—were described as “the welcoming smile”, “the selfie taker”, “the tourist guide”, “the comedian”, “the high-five expert” and the person to have a wee blether with. They were, above all, the heart and soul of our championships. I know many of them personally, and they did a fantastic job, especially when we realise that overall attendance was half a million, which is double what was projected before the championships began.

I come back to my point about legacy. Glasgow’s iconic George Square was central to festival 2018, which ran alongside the 2018 European championships. That created a fantastic carnival atmosphere. I know that the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs was also there. It was great—people came from all over to enjoy a fabulous big party in George Square, which was packed with spectacular line-ups and events. It was open to all and it was fantastic.

An issue that came up afterwards was the fact that George Square was closed to all traffic, which was fantastic. People started to wonder whether we could have it permanently closed to traffic. Glasgow City Council has gone out to consultation on that. Basically, if that were to come about, the legacy of the event would be a traffic-free George Square, if that is what the people want. I encourage all Glaswegians to take part in the consultation—it is on Glasgow City Council’s website. Giving back to the city in that way would be absolutely fantastic.

Photo of Brian Whittle Brian Whittle Conservative

I thank Bill Kidd for securing time in the chamber to discuss the European championships that were held recently in Glasgow and Berlin.

This is the first time that the

European championships have been multisport championships, which is a move that I very much welcome. Members will not be surprised to hear that I have a bit of a soft spot for the European championships. I would have appreciated the opportunity to have other sports included back in my day, when just the Olympics and the Commonwealth games were multisport. Bringing a lot of sports together is always going to be great for the athletes in the village as well as for the crowds of supporters who come along to watch.

It is difficult to find venues so that we can bring all the sports to one place. In this instance, track and field competitions being ended up in Berlin because to host track and field and all the other different sports, we need big stadiums, and stadiums with a capacity of 40,000-plus for track and field are few and far between.

Because track and field sports ended up in Berlin, I had the opportunity to go and watch other sports in Glasgow. I went to Tollcross to watch the swimming championships, which were absolutely phenomenal. I went to George Square to watch the cycling, which did not take long. Away they went past me; that was my experience of the cycling.

The city was incredibly vibrant and incredibly welcoming. One thing is for sure—we can quite easily say that we are world class at hosting and supporting sports events. We should take great pride as Scots about the way in which we welcome people to our country and the way in which—as Sandra White alluded to—volunteers flock to help and go about their business.

There is no doubt that we have world-class facilities. Also, we are building on the legacy of the Commonwealth games in 2014. It is not only the fact that the Euros were a multisport event this year that made them unique. We are only four years on from the last time we had a multisport event take place here in Scotland, which gives us an opportunity to look at legacy—to review the class of 2014 and see what has changed and what has developed.

Without question, we have world-class performers. We had 47 Scots in the Great Britain team across seven sports, and medals came in for the Scots. I say unashamedly that I am a massive fan of Laura Muir, who underlined her huge talent with her dominant performance when winning her first outdoor title. Now and again, I take my training squad along to the indoor facility in Glasgow at the Emirates stadium, where she often trains, and she always takes time out after training to speak to the little group of 10-year-olds whom I work with. She is a model of how international sportspeople should be.

Eilish McColgan won a fantastic silver in the 5k, following in her mother’s footsteps. She is very close to her mother’s times—let us hope that she emulates her. A special mention goes to Eilidh Doyle, who once again made her way to the podium. I think that she is now sitting on 18 major medals, which is the most for any Scottish athlete. In the 4 x 400m relay team with her is young Zoey Clark, with whom I had the pleasure of working when she was an under-15 and under-17 athlete.

Duncan Scott got three gold medals and a silver in the pool, some of which I witnessed. I mentioned after the Commonwealth games that we should watch out for Jake Wightman. He has a fantastic future ahead of him, and took a bronze medal.

In the time that I have available—I have had four minutes already and am only halfway through my flipping speech—I want to highlight the journey that the world-class athletes have been on, and to thank the clubs, the national governing bodies and the coaches. I welcome the funding, from early funding at local level to the funding that goes through sportscotland until athletes reach elite funding at UK Sport level: £13.2 million is going into Scottish elite sport at the highest levels.

We have had fantastic successes. Long may they continue. May we continue to bring elite sporting events to Scotland. I hope that they inspire the next generation.

Photo of James Kelly James Kelly Labour

As the other speakers have done, I thank Bill Kidd for securing the debate. In the first week back, it is right that we spend some time reflecting on the success of the European championships. We had a couple of debates in the run-up to the championships in which we discussed a lot of the issues, and there was a lot of hope and optimism. There was also some discussion around legacy. Although this is a members’ business debate, it is right to take the time to reflect on the recent championships.

I want to record my thanks to the organisers and all the volunteers. It would not have been possible for the championships to be held—never mind be such a success—if it had not been for so many volunteers. In the few days in the run-up to the events, there was quite a striking image as volunteers started to crop up around Glasgow, proudly wearing their tracksuits. When people met them in the street, they were delighted to say where they were volunteering. I met one woman in a street near to me who was working at Tollcross. She told me all about her day and how much she had enjoyed it, and I could see how much that woman had got out of it. We can see how all the volunteers got a lot out of the championships. They put a lot into them, so we should be thankful for that.

I congratulate all the medal winners. The motion is right to highlight Berlin as well as Glasgow. I reiterate what Brian Whittle said about Laura Muir, who gave a fantastic performance. It was great to see her strike the front from so far out in her 1,500m race. Those races can be tactical in nature, with people waiting until the last couple of hundred metres. However, she gave a really gutsy performance and went right to the front from a long way out. She took it on and won comfortably in the end.

I also want to highlight Kirsty O’Brien, a member of Cambuslang Harriers, who got a silver medal in the triathlon in the over-35 group at Strathclyde park. That sets an example to those not just in Cambuslang Harriers but throughout the Cambuslang and Glasgow region.

Glasgow did itself proud. As Sandra White said, the crowds far exceeded what we expected. There was a fantastic atmosphere in the city at night and at the events.

Like Brian Whittle, I watched the cycling at Glasgow Green, and I was really stuck by the sheer endeavour of the athletes. I decided to enter into the spirit of it in terms of sporting participation. I always go out a run on a Sunday morning, so I watched the start of the cycling, which started at half past 10 on the Sunday morning, and then I ran from Cambuslang into Glasgow Green, which is about 4 miles. I watched a good bit of the cycling and then I ran back home at about half past 2 and watched the finish at half past 4. That cycle race was on for six hours on the final Sunday. The weather was good throughout the championships, but on that occasion it was pouring with rain, and it was astonishing to see the effort that the cyclists were putting in as they came round lap after lap. I could also see how much the crowds were getting out of that.

The championships have been a great event and a great success. It is very important that we look at the legacy, because there remain major health challenges in Glasgow with life expectancy and illnesses. However, hosting the European championships has given us a platform to try to get more people into sport, and we should all promote and unite around that opportunity.

Photo of Annie Wells Annie Wells Conservative

I thank Bill Kidd for bringing the subject to the chamber. No one was more excited than me to hear that, this summer, Glasgow was once again hosting a major sporting event. Unfortunately, I was on holiday for the lot and did not get to see it.

Continuing the success of the 2014 Commonwealth games, the European championships caught the spirit of the city, showcasing Glasgow’s famous hospitality and the warmth of its people.

As the host of the first-ever European championships, Glasgow again opened its doors to sporting fans from around the world. Jointly hosted by Glasgow and Berlin between 2 and 12 August, the new multisport event was the amalgamation of several existing championships, with Glasgow leading the way in aquatics, cycling, gymnastics, rowing and the triathlon. Thousands of visitors came to the city during August and, with blanket coverage by the BBC and other major broadcasters in Europe, it is estimated that the television audience reach exceeded 1 billion viewers.

As I reflect on the success of the championships, it is clear that Glasgow was again the perfect host. With a buzz in the city and an atmosphere of friendliness and good will, the event provided the perfect opportunity for everyone to get involved. As well as 4,500 athletes from 52 countries who competed, thousands of volunteers from around the world helped out. They included representatives from every Scottish local authority. Music, art, dance, theatre and comedy events happened in conjunction with the championships. That added a carnival atmosphere to the occasion and provided the opportunity for Glasgow to showcase its creative culture and bring together communities. To top it all off, Britain came second overall behind Russia in the medal table, with Scottish athletes winning 20 out of team GB’s 74 medals.

With Scottish tourism being worth more than £11 billion to the economy, the championships will no doubt give a boost to the country’s visitor economy. VisitScotland spoke of the role that the event would play in providing a platform to showcase what Scotland has to offer and attracting tourists to visit Glasgow’s “historical and contemporary cityscapes” and the “beautiful and dramatic landscapes” that surround it. As Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow has much to offer and I am extremely pleased that, due to such events, it will, in time, rightly be recognised as one of Europe’s most exciting destinations.

As with all sporting events, I hope that the championships will increase Scotland’s worldwide sporting reputation and encourage people—including me—to take part in more physical activity. As I already mentioned, having won more than 25 per cent of team GB’s total medal tally, Scotland is doing amazingly in the sports concerned. We need to milk that for all that it is worth. There is no doubt that we are doing great in elite sport, but that needs to filter down to everyone in Scotland so that regular sporting activity at all levels becomes the societal norm. With regard to that, I ask the Scottish Government what fresh approaches it will take to tackling Scotland’s obesity crisis and improving current rates of physical activity.

I again congratulate Glasgow on its impressive hosting of the inaugural European championships. It has been shown time and again that people can come together and celebrate in unity during such sporting events. Glasgow has much to offer, as we have seen. The championships have not only consolidated Scotland’s and Glasgow’s sporting reputation worldwide but, most important, showcased Glasgow’s and Scotland’s best asset: its people.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

I, too, thank Bill Kidd for securing the debate and giving us the opportunity to reflect on the fantastic achievement of the first ever multisport European championships event to be held, jointly hosted by Glasgow and Berlin this summer.

Members who have spoken have paid tribute to all those who made this happen. I add my voice to congratulate the athletes who took part in the thrilling competition and, in particular, to congratulate team GB and Northern Ireland on coming second in the medal table, with Scottish athletes securing an impressive 23 medals. My particular highlights were seeing the power of Duncan Scott in the pool and the great achievement of Laura Muir in the 1,500m track. I thank all the officers and the delivery team of the 2018 European championships, Glasgow City Council, the City of Edinburgh Council, Perth and Kinross Council, North Lanarkshire Council, East Dunbartonshire Council, Stirling Council, the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority, Glasgow Life and our own Scottish Government officials. I also want to put on record my thanks to Aileen Campbell, the former Minister for Public Health and Sport, for her contribution to the event. Of course, as we have heard, we must also thank the amazing and committed 3,500 volunteers who brought energy, enthusiasm and a welcoming feeling to the event. Everyone remarked on what an impact they made to the professionalism of the event and the spirit of the championships.

We should not underestimate what an innovation the European championships were. This was the first ever multisport event on a European championship level, and it was far from clear what the response would be. This was a bold and courageous step on the part of everyone involved. Glasgow saw 88 per cent ticketing and attendance; viewers in 10 major European markets saw a staggering 567 million hours of viewing; and the BBC alone reported 20 million viewers, with a peak of 6.4 million.

The Scottish Government agreed to be the main funder for this event, in partnership with Glasgow City Council, but we must congratulate those who are involved in the various European sporting federations and the European Broadcasting Union on their vision. We think that our politics is tough, but imagine trying to bring seven different governing bodies together to make sure that such an event happens. That was a major achievement in itself.

The concept was innovative. It was initially thought of some years ago and it has effectively broken the mould of international championships. The intention is that this new multisport European championship event will now take place every four years between the Olympic competitions. Aquatics, cycling, gymnastics, rowing and triathlon federations came together, with the addition of a golfing event. Representatives of the European federations to whom I spoke at the various events that I attended were all very positive about the hosting and the commitment shown by the Scottish Government ministers and city leaders in their attendance and support. We were able to build on our relations with Berlin following the opening of the Scottish hub in Berlin earlier this year, and the championships have helped facilitate chamber of commerce relationships between Glasgow and Berlin. The Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development, Ben Macpherson, attended events around the athletics in Berlin and I was delighted to welcome the Berlin delegation to Scotland.

This new event has proved to be a huge success and a celebration of quality sport, with an outstanding cultural programme—festival 2018—enjoyed across Europe and beyond. The event showcased our world-class venues and our ability to sustainably host sporting events, based on existing and appropriate new infrastructure. The only entirely new venue was for the BMX event at Knightswood. As Bill Kidd said, the new track is the only outdoor championship and Olympic-standard track in Scotland. It will be home to Glasgow’s Western Titans BMX club, providing a lasting legacy for BMX in Scotland. It is truly world class, and I was told that it is one of the few venues in the world that meets the requirements of the latest competition regulations, so we should expect BMX champions from across the world to come and train in Scotland.

Investment in the rowing tower at Strathclyde country park also equips that as a world-class venue. Hosting the championships at venues across the country allowed us to spread the benefits to communities around Scotland.

Broadcasters believed in the concept from the start. Given the way in which the events were presented, some people said that they did not know which were in Berlin and which were in Glasgow. It was all done in a very slick way that enabled an efficient interchange that delivered effective and entertaining programming. Images were beamed across the world and up to 12 hours of coverage a day, on free-to-air channels, showcased Scotland’s unique culture and attractions alongside the sport. We saw backdrops of George Square, Loch Lomond and Strathclyde country park, together with golf from Gleneagles and diving from Edinburgh. That highlighted the very best of Scotland and added immeasurably to the profile and reach of our new, and hugely exciting brand, Scotland is now.

The championships were not just about sport. Festival 2018 highlighted Scotland’s reputation for cultural brilliance and creativity. The live orchestral link-up between the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and musicians from Berlin’s renowned University of the Arts was a real highlight and a first for both institutions.

We should also pay tribute to those who were involved in transport. A successful transport operation is critical for any event. With 12 venues spread across Scotland, and more than 8,500 athletes and officials accommodated in more than 60 locations, Transport Scotland’s knowledge and expertise was put to good effect. Good communications and planning were key.

The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring a sustainable, national legacy from hosting major events. Sustaining a flourishing, innovative and competitive events industry generates business, creates jobs and provides a legacy that benefits all of Scotland’s communities.

I have covered a range of things that highlight that Scotland is a dynamic, outward looking and inclusive European nation.

The Scottish Government puts particular emphasis on using sporting legacy to increase physical activity levels. Whoever someone is and whatever their background, there should be no barriers to participating in sport or improving their health and lifestyle. To support that, with Glasgow City Council we have invested £1 million to harness the profile of the championships. From that, sportscotland distributed £500,000 to community sports hubs. Spread right across Scotland, the hubs play an essential role in delivering grass-roots sport and activity, which we know provides the foundation for better health for all, as well as for future sporting success.

A sum of £500,000 was invested in GO LIVE! at the Green, which offered 11 days of free activity. More than 120,000 people visited the site and the venue was packed with sport, fitness and lifestyle education, opportunities and signposting in order to promote health and wellbeing.

We must build on the triumph of the championships and look to the future. Next year, Scotland will play host to the European short course swimming championships, the European athletics indoor championships and of course the Solheim cup.

The reputation that Scotland has developed as a host of world-class events brings opportunities for international promotion and business for our economy. We must not take that for granted. We constantly need to look for and plan for new events and opportunities. That is a key role for our very respected organisation EventScotland, and I pay tribute to its role in the European championships. Such events help us to promote our stunning landscapes, exciting cities and the contribution of our young people and our diverse communities.

Our future events will look to use the world-class skills and expertise that we have developed to build further. As Bill Kidd said, with the 2018 European championships, Glasgow and Berlin have set a high bar. I hope that everyone will join me in congratulating all those involved in developing and delivering that ground-breaking event.

Meeting closed at 17:38.