Olympic plan way off pace
T wo weeks ago I complained about "the failure of the Irish Sports Council and the Olympic Council of Ireland to mount a credible joint campaign to persuade other countries to use Ireland as a training venue ahead of the Olympics". Pat Hickey, the president of the Olympic Council of Ireland, disagrees.
He says he and John Treacy, the chief executive of the ISC, co-operated on the government's taskforce, established to consider Ireland's approach to the games. "Speaking for myself, I worked day and night with colleagues in Europe and around the world to attract them here, but the simple basic fact [is that] they were not prepared to train in sub-standard facilities that did not match Olympic criteria," he says.
Hickey says he is still working with individual National Olympic Committees to try and attract their swimming teams to the National Aquatic Centre but "this is proving very difficult as the Olympic teams from each country tend to travel together and . . . want to avail of all sport disciplines within the same country."
The chances of success are therefore slim. Hickey's point is that he and the ISC did co-operate within the taskforce, notwithstanding their previous disagreements. The problem, though, was in the planning: London's award came in July 2005. There should have been a strategic plan in place at the time, but our response was too slow: it took another 13 months just to announce the taskforce. As a result, we may get a few tourists, but the Olympic opportunity has passed. A credible campaign?