Venue found for opening of Games
Published 20/02/2013 | 19:56
A home has finally been found for the opening ceremony of this summer's World Police and Fire Games in Northern Ireland.
The King's Hall in Belfast will stage the event, ending a public saga over the hunt for a site.
With less than six months to go, Games organisers had been under pressure to find a venue for the August 1 opening ceremony after rugby bosses ruled out the home of Ulster Rugby, Ravenhill.
It had been hoped the event could be staged at the east Belfast stadium, but the Irish Rugby Football Union refused the request, claiming it would clash with plans to unveil its revamped facility.
But approval for the King's Hall in south Belfast has now been given by the 2013 WPFG Board, Stormont's Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, and the World Police and Fire Games Federation.
2013 WPFG chief executive John Tully said: "The opening ceremony is the key official event during the Games, providing an opportunity to officially welcome athletes and their families to the host city.
"It is one of the many requirements of the World Police and Fire Games Federation that this ceremony is held to mark the beginning of 10 days of competition and camaraderie.
"Whilst Belfast City Council have been working very hard on the content of the ceremony, it was equally important that the location would provide the right environment and opportunity to set the tone for the international multi-sport event and contribute to our goal of delivering the friendliest Games ever.
"We are confident that the King's Hall will provide the perfect location to stage the athletes' parade and begin a 10-day showcase of all that is best about Northern Ireland. We can now look forward to finalising the finer details of the ceremony."
Stormont Sports Minister Carl N Chuiln said: "The opening ceremony is a key part of the Games - we are expecting thousands of athletes at an event which will be a curtain-raiser for 10 days of sporting action."