A giant set of Olympic Rings has been unveiled in Edinburgh as the Olympic spirit has swept across Scotland ahead of the start of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The official launch of the brightly coloured sculpture on The Mound in the historic heart of the city coincided with the arrival of the Olympic Torch Relay, greeted by tens of thousands of excited spectators.
The 18m wide, 8m tall stainless steel Rings were unveiled in the Scottish capital in a ceremony attended by Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore alongside local hero Allan Wells, the 100m champion at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Donald Wilson, and Shona Robison, the Scottish Government’s Commonwealth Games and Sport Minister.
The Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore said:
“From the moment the Olympic Torch arrived in Scotland, the reception it has received has been fantastic. In every village, town and city we have seen people lining the streets and really embracing the Olympic spirit and it keeps growing day by day.
“Now it is Edinburgh’s turn to be at the heart of the celebrations and today has really shown the city at its best. These Olympic Rings look brilliant on The Mound and are a bold reminder that the Olympic Games are going to be a great event for the whole of the UK.”
The Rings were officially launched at an event hosted by BBC Scotland presenter Cat Cubie at Scotland’s National Gallery and featuring performances by local arts groups and musicians playing traditional clarsach and bagpipe music.
The unveiling was followed by an evening concert and party for more than 8,000 people at Edinburgh Castle to celebrate the Torch Relay’s arrival in the city. Scottish singer Emeli Sandé performed along with Kim Edgar and The Big Project, featuring young people from Edinburgh. The relay has travelled across Scotland over the past week, following visits to South West England, the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland and Dublin, as part of its ten week tour. Tomorrow it will move into North East England.
The Mound is the latest iconic site to host a giant set of Olympic Rings. Others have already been unveiled at St Pancras railway station in London, at the entrance to the Channel Tunnel in Calais, marked out in flowers at Kew Gardens, at Birmingham airport, on the River Thames in London and outside the city halls in Cardiff, Belfast and Glasgow. Another set has been installed on the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle this week and they will be followed by more in Coventry, Surrey and Weymouth in the coming weeks.
At the end of the Olympic Games, and ahead of the Paralympics Games, the rings in Edinburgh will be replaced with a giant version of the Paralympics Agitos symbol.