Inside Lines: Why playing political game could block high road to Rio


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The Independent Online

One man keeping an anxious eye on the antics of Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, amid growing concerns that the Commonwealth Games are being politically hijacked in the campaign for independence is fellow Scot Sir Craig Reedie.

A Glaswegian himself, the International Olympic Committee vice-president will want to see strict adherence to the IOC rule – and that of the Commonwealth Games Federation – that the Games must not be manipulated as a political vehicle. The embarrassing attempt to get the Red Arrows to trail blue and white smoke – the colours of the Saltire – rather than traditional unionist red, white and blue in the opening-ceremony fly-past has already caused top-level alarm, as did Salmond doing the Braveheart bit and calling Glasgow "Freedom City" after declaring that a yes vote would prevail on 18 September. Reedie, 73, finds himself in a tricky situation. A former chair of the British Olympic Association, principal architect of a successful London 2012 and now president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), he is known to be opposed to Scottish independence, yet wearing his IOC hat he would be expected to help expedite Scotland's wish to compete as a separate nation in Rio 2016 should the referendum be affirmative. Such an eventuality would need to be fast-tracked by the IOC but precedence suggests they may be compliant, as they were with Montenegro for Beijing 2008. Another Scottish knight against his nation splitting from Britain is their most iconic Olympian, Sir Chris Hoy. The increasingly statesmanlike demeanour of the retired cycling legend, who sorted the Games baton paper jam which embarrassingly held up the Queen's opening message, suggests future membership of the IOC. But would he represent GB or Scotland?

Common ground

The United States couldn't give a caber's toss about Glasgow's showpiece. To them it is just a cosy garden party or a village fete. An insignificant little brother to the Olympics. Yet here's an irony. America may not give a damn about Glasgow 2014 but one of their citizens is actually in charge of it – and when it finishes he will be running the whole Commonwealth Games shooting match. Ex-wrestler David Grevemberg, a native of New Orleans, is Glasgow 2014 chief executive and in November he will take over from New Zealander Mike Hooper as head honcho of the Commonwealth Games Federation. Apparently he beat three British rivals for the job.

Flanagan's new print run

As one of Britain's leading national athletics coaches, Tom McNab was rarely seen without a stopwatch. Now 80, his sense of timing prevails, for his 1982 widely acclaimed global bestseller Flanagan's Run, one of the outstanding sports novels, has been republished in paperback (Sandstone Press, £8.99) to coincide with the Commonwealth Games. Set in 1931 at the height of the depression, the story covers an epic 3,000-mile foot race across the United States, from Los Angeles to New York with 2,000 runners competing for a prize of $150,000. En route they encounter deserts, mountains, shady mobsters and crooked officials. Nothing like Glasgow, of course. But dipping into it might compensate McNab's fellow Glaswegians for missing out on Farah's Run.

Pyramid scheme

Forty years after arm-twisting dodgy presidents to bankroll the "Rumble in the Jungle" and the "Thrilla in Manila", Don King is at it again. The 82-year-old wants Egypt's new rulers to underwrite a world heavyweight title fight in Cairo, held in the shadow of the Pyramids, and call it "King of the Nile". Is he away with the Pharoahs?