Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

2014 baton sets off on global tour

The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games baton has left the UK for India on the first leg of its international tour.

The baton will travel about 120,000 miles across the globe and was sent on its way by the Queen at Buckingham Palace yesterday.

It returned to host city Glasgow for a reception held by the Lord Provost today before leaving with a delegation of organisers for Delhi, hosts of the last Commonwealth Games in 2010.

Scots pipers and Indian dancers performed at a ceremony at Glasgow Airport as the baton was waved off.

Louise Martin, secretary general of the Commonwealth Games Federation, carried the baton into the airport and will accompany it in the first few weeks of its tour.

She said she will not let it out of her sight as there is only one baton for the entire relay, unlike the Olympic relay where hundreds of torches are used to carry the Olympic flame.

Ms Martin, who is also chair of Sportscotland, said: "It certainly won't be in the hold, it's with us all the way and does not leave our sight, we cannot afford to have anything going wrong so we'll leave nothing to chance.

"When the baton goes into a country it belongs to the Commonwealth Games Association of that country and they look after the baton and do what they want to do with it, but what we want is for as many people as possible to touch the baton so that when they see the opening ceremony next year they can say 'that was part of me, I've held that'.

"You can see how clean and clear the baton is just now, but when it comes back we want it to be slightly darker and shinier than that so that you can tell thousands of hands have carried it across the world."

The baton will visit every nation and territory of the Commonwealth, travelling through Asia, Oceania, Africa, North and South America, the Caribbean and Europe, before returning to Scotland in June next year where a secret message written by the Queen held within the baton will be read aloud at the opening ceremony at Celtic Park on July 23.

Some doubt was cast over the Indian leg of the tour after reports from the country suggested it was unable to host it due to the Hindu festival of Dussehra, but organisers dismissed any fears.

Ms Martin said: "We've been working with the Indians for two or three months now and it's their holiday time so they were hoping that we would be able to change, but we can't change the route because it's set from day one and we have to follow it right through the Commonwealth, so if we lose one day it's a domino effect, so they realised that and there were no problems. They re-organised some of their things so everything's fine and it will be big party time in Delhi.

"I've just had an email to say that we are going to be met air-side in Delhi by the top people in the Indian Olympic Association, which is really, really good, then we've got a High Commission reception at the weekend after visiting the Taj Mahal, so the excitement is really building along the route."

One part of the relay has had to be withdrawn after the Gambia announced its departure from the Commonwealth.

The west African nation will not participate in the Games and withdrew from the organisation saying it will ''never be a member of any neo-colonial institution''.

The baton will spend an average of one to four days in each nation, with an extended duration of seven days in Wales, two weeks in England and 40 days in Scotland.

Scotland's International Development Secretary Humza Yousef is accompanying the baton on the Emirates flight to India, which has a transfer in Dubai.

He arrived at the airport dressed in a Sherwani with a tartan scarf around his shoulders.

He said: "My own outfit is a mixture of the sub-continent and Scottish dress, and that's an important partnership that we're going to celebrate on this first leg.

"If you walk down any busy street in Glasgow today you can hear that eclectic mix of people, and that's what the baton is about, celebrating that diversity that exists."

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph