Wednesday 22 March 2017

Plan to abseil Olympic torch off Croker roof

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

FRESH from the successful royal visit, the GAA has landed another huge publicity coup by securing a provisional agreement to abseil the Olympic torch off the roof of Croke Park next summer.

It will be the most dramatic event of the torch's 24-hour detour into the Republic on June 6, when it will be carried in a relay format from Newry to Dublin and back by a selection of sports stars and celebrities.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) still has to formally agree to the Irish leg of the torch run but it has already been agreed in principle.

The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has confirmed that some of Ireland's non-Olympic sports stars will also be invited to take part. Brian O'Driscoll and Dublin football captain Bryan Cullen are among those likely to be selected for the spectacular Croke Park leg, although no sports stars have been formally asked to participate yet.

The abseil has been provisionally planned for 10am on Wednesday, June 6, and OCI president Pat Hickey revealed yesterday that the GAA's successful royal visit was a big factor in the interest in the venue.

"When the London organisers came here to discuss a route they were looking for something spectacular," he said.

"I had read that Croke Park were starting roof-top tours next year and suggested it as a possibility and they were particularly taken with the idea, especially because of the queen's visit."

Croke Park is planning to start its new commercial 'roof-top tours' on St Patrick's Day next year, which will offer several adventure-style options.

These will include abseiling off the roof and zip-lining from it on to Hill 16, an experience that should appeal to thrill-seeking Dublin supporters.

Go-ahead

The London organisers are forwarding a detailed plan to the IOC which meets next in December -- but they could give the plan the go-ahead earlier by using a postal ballot.

Since 1936 the Olympic torch is traditionally lit in Olympus, Greece, and then carried across the world to the host venue.

But a host of political protests marred its route to Beijing in 2008 and after that the IOC decided it would only travel around the host country, the UK, in 2012.

However, the OCI argued that it represents the whole island of Ireland and features a team of athletes from north and south of the Border.

Irish Independent

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