GLASGOW (Reuters) - The Commonwealth Games will be the first of many successful major sporting events to be held in Scotland regardless of the country’s referendum on independence, Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said on Tuesday.
Scotland votes on Sept. 18 to decide whether it will end its 307-year union with England and leave the United Kingdom.
But with the Commonwealth Games starting in Glasgow on Wednesday, Salmond said the country’s focus was firmly on putting on a memorable fortnight of sport.
“What Glasgow 2014 will do is show that Scotland can successfully hold major international sporting events,” the Scottish National Party leader told a news conference.
“We have funded the Games from our resources. The commitment we have shown sport and the Games, not just here in Glasgow but across the country, will continue to flourish with independence.”
Scotland won the right to host the Commonwealth Games in 2007 and the country will also stage this year's Ryder Cup golf match at Gleneagles in September.
“In terms of international events we are bidding for we do pretty well,” Salmond said. “We will continue to bid for events which are appropriate and that show Scotland in the best possible light.
"I don’t think anyone in Scotland would complain about our lack of ambition in securing major international events.
“Our investment in the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles is also validated in terms of what’s happening in Scottish sport and Scottish golf.”
With the Games costing around 575 million pounds the 59-year-old Salmond believes the impact they will have on Scottish people’s lives makes it money well spent.
"The Games have created employment opportunities all over Scotland for thousands of young people,” he added.
"The venues have been open for some time and they are already proving to be powerful investments, paying their way before the Games have started.
"The Games will be delivered, to the relief of us all, within budget. To spectators they will be the most affordable Games ever."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)