Wednesday 13 December 2017

‘Hosting Olympics here is a realistic prospect’ – minister

But idea is laughed off as being 'absolutely overly ambitious'

Sports Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Tom Burke
Sports Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Tom Burke

Ryan Nugent

Sports Minister Shane Ross has insisted holding the Olympic Games in Ireland is a "realistic prospect".

Speaking in relation to Ireland's 2023 Rugby World Cup bid, Mr Ross said a potential Olympics bid was something the Government could look into.

"Let's think about the Olympics, sure," Mr Ross told an Oireachtas Committee.

"Now it's a real, realistic prospect if we will build up these stadiums. The sky is the limit. I think we have the prospect of opening new channels and we should certainly be thinking that way," he added.

However, the idea has been laughed off by former Irish Olympian Eamonn Coghlan, who was on the board of an original committee set up to look at the prospect in the 1990s.

Mr Coghlan was part of the Dublin International Sports Council in 1992, which was set up on the back of calls from then lord mayor Gay Mitchell for Ireland to bid for the event.

He said despite being in favour of ambitious projects, Ireland did not have the facilities and it would not be feasible to build them, given the size of our population.

"Where would you host a 60-70k athletics competition in Ireland? The lower tiers in Croke Park would have to go," he said.

"We're not going to build a big stadium just for athletics and then leave it there. Could we do cycling? Yes. But we don't have a velodrome. That's being absolutely overly ambitious."

Mr Coghlan said Ireland's previous foray into the Olympics mix in the 1990s would also not have had a chance. "Even Pat Hickey thought we were a laughing stock," he said. "In real terms, we wouldn't have had a chance on Earth of actually getting a bid."

Meanwhile, Mr Ross has said a report into the publication of the report into the Rio Olympics ticketing scandal was "absolutely imminent" - and was set to meet with senior department officials on the issue today.

Mr Ross insisted he had not read the contents of the Moran Report into alleged ticket touting, saying it was sent directly to the Attorney General for legal advice.

Speaking in front of the Oireachtas Transport, Tourism and Sport Committee, Mr Ross said once the report was published he would come before the committee again to discuss it.

"I sent it on to the AG with the suggestion to ask how it can be published - that's where it stands.

"My officials, I think, were briefed on it yesterday. It's absolutely imminent, we are looking at it with a view to publication," he said.

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