Olympic torch set to light up Croker
CROKE PARK looks set to land one of the highlights of the Olympic torch visit to Dublin next June -- by having the flame abseiled off the roof of the Hogan Stand.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) finally gave the green-light yesterday for the famous sporting symbol to cross the border at Omagh and spend 24 hours in the south on June 6 next.
The GAA has already been in talks with the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) about the possibility of abseiling the torch off the roof of their 80,000-seater stadium as one of the most spectacular legs of that trip.
Croke Park is starting a new commercial 'roof-top tours' business on St Patrick's Day next year, which will offer several adventure-style options to punters.
The public will be able to pay for a chance to abseil off the roof of the historic stadium or zip-line from the top of the Hogan Stand onto Hill 16.
Such adventure experiences are now common place at major international sports stadia and the GAA's decision to start such a commercial enterprise has come at the perfect time, as the Olympic Council believes that it would provide a spectacular visual highlight for their historic torch run.
So far, they have only confirmed that the torch will make a symbolic crossing of the border next June and then travel to the OCI headquarters at Howth for a ceremony, before going on a relay around the inner-city, and both north and south of the Liffey.
The torch run will culminate with a celebration in downtown Dublin, the location of which has yet to be confirmed. However, it's likely to be somewhere central such as Merrion Square.
After the initial handing across the border -- there's strong speculation that Barcelona Olympic boxing medallists Wayne McCullough and Michael Carruth will be chosen to make that symbolic switch -- the torch will travel to Dublin in a convoy of cars before being carried around the city in a relay involving the country's top sports stars and celebrities.
But abseiling the flame from Croke Park would be the most dramatic event of the trip and, though Gaelic games are not Olympic sports, it remains to be seen if a top GAA player will be directly involved.
Since 1936, the torch has been 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 back in 2008 and after that, the IOC decided it would only travel around the host country, which is the UK for 2012.
However, the Olympic Council of Ireland argued that it represents the whole island of Ireland at the Olympic Games, featuring a team of athletes from north and south of the border and, on that basis, has successfully argued for the torch to take a detour into the Republic.