Monday 19 March 2018

Olympic torch should shine on streets of Dublin, says Coe

Graham Clifford in London

The Olympic torch relay should go through Dublin, London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe said yesterday.

"I think it would speak eloquently and powerfully for sport," the former Olympic gold medallist said.

Dublin has not been announced as one of the destinations for the Olympic flame in the run-up to the start of the London 2012 Games but Mr Coe yesterday confirmed that there was "advanced conversation" over the issue.

The Olympic champion told the British Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee: "I don't want to go into particular details. I have spent a lot of time on this both in Northern Ireland and in conversations with the Republic.

"From a personal perspective, I would like to see a small visit south of the Border but, as you can understand, these are complex discussions."

Yesterday, Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) president Pat Hickey confirmed talks on bringing the flame to Ireland were coming to a head. "Very delicate but very favourable negotiations are taking place at the moment and the final hurdle will come when the OCI meet in December," he said.

"Technically, the decision is between the London 2012 organising committee and the OCI but the governments are also involved, in that both must be happy that security is provided around the torch."

The torch will visit Belfast, Derry, Coleraine and Newry during its tour of the North.

The torch could be brought to Dublin on June 6 after a symbolic border crossing at Newry.

It would be the torch's only detour outside Britain in the lead-up to the London 2012 Games.

The Olympic flame relay lasts 70 days from May 19 to July 27 2012, with the torch travelling about 8,000 miles, culminating in the lighting of the cauldron at the Stratford Olympic Stadium at the Games' opening ceremony.

Meanwhile, Camden Town will be painted green during next summer's Olympic Games in London -- but only if over €1m is found to fund the 'Irish hospitality house' there.

A spokesman for the OCI said negotiations were taking place to secure the funding with support sought from both the private and public sectors.

Set in the Roundhouse performing arts and concert venue, a former railway engine storehouse which at present has a capacity of 3,300, the Irish hospitality house will comprise three elements.

"We expect to have an ordinary pay-in area where punters can come and enjoy Irish music and Irish dancing. There'll be giant screens around the walls so you can watch the Irish Olympics events live. And then we'll also have a VIP area for sponsors," said Mr Hickey.

Irish Independent

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