Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Scotland gets ready for Commonwealth Games

By Ben Mensah

Plans are on course to make next year's XIII Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh broader based. Ten sports will be featured, one more than in 1970 when the games were first held in Scotland. These are athletics, badminton, bowling, swimming, cycling, wrestling, weightlifting, rowing, boxing and shooting. There will also be two demonstration sports - canoeing and judo.

This report on the progress of preparations for the games was made available to journalists including Talking Drums representative, who flew to the Scottish capital by British Airways Concorde together with two British Olympic medal winners, Tessa Sanderson and Allan Wells, on April 2.

The Condcorde was given to the games organisation as a gesture of goodwill and support.

Mr Ken Borthwick, chairman of the Games, who also arrived in Edinburgh on the same flight, announced to the journalists at a reception at the airport that venues for nine of the ten sports had been completed and that negotiations were expected to be concluded for the completion of the tenth - velodrome for cycling events.

Invitations to fifty eight Commonwealth countries have already been despatched and Ken Borthwick and his team are hoping that the host nation and its nationals would not do anything unfortunate that may warrant a boycott of the games by any Commonwealth member.

The Olympic gold medallists Tessa Sanderson and Allan Wells, who heard a group of African journalists express anxiety about the implications of the impending tour of apartheid South, Africa by the New Zealand rugby players, appealed to the journalists and through them to their governments not to allow politics to blur the friendly relations which sports foster among nations.

Both Tessa and Allan who condemned apartheid policies and said they themselves would not take part in sports in South Africa, advised African politicians not to dwell on the activities of a few sportsmen who go to South Africa, to prevent African sportsmen and women to exhibit and develop their potential at international meetings.


Allan, in particular, is anxious to use the Commonwealth games to relaunch his image as one of the world's fastest runners following his dismal performance and subsequent withdrawal from the Los Angeles Olympic Games.

He told me: "I went to Los Angeles to defend my Olympic title won at the 1980 Moscow Games, but had to pull out on health grounds. My right toe was so swollen I couldn't even wear my shoes. Now it has healed and I expect to re-establish my superiority in the sprints and the Commonwealth Games will be a nice opportunity to do just that. I look forward to meeting sports- men from all the Commonwealth in Edinburgh."

The games will be televised to 550 million people worldwide and the British Broadcasting Corporation which organised the trip to Edinburgh on Concorde for the journalists are planning to cater for some 1,000 broadcasting and TV personnel from Britain and overseas.

Representatives from the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand Broadcasting Corporations have already visited Edinburgh to plan their operations. Canada plans to take a two-hour video of the Games daily in French and English and the smaller Commonwealth countries will be receiving one-hour packages of the Games highlights from the BBC.

The Games are being organised along the lines of the last Olympic games in Los Angeles. Much of the estimated cost of £12 million will be covered through ticket sales, advertising and sponsorship. The organisers have subsequently set a target of £1.5 million to be raised through appeal programmes. A Royal Gala performance on July 3 at the Playhouse Theatre in Edinburgh to be attended by the British Queen and Prince Philip is one of such pro- grammes, and over £200,000 is expected to be raised towards the cost of the Games.

The spirit of the Games... athletes from around the Commonwealth join in the fun during the closing scenes of the 1970 Games.

talking drums 1985-04-22 doe's ride to the presidency - general hannnaniya - gifex 1985