Saturday 20 April 2019

Daley Thompson in race row over anti-Irish joke on BBC

thlete Daley Thompson. Photo: PA
thlete Daley Thompson. Photo: PA
Crowds arrive for an opening ceremony rehearsal at the Olympic Park in London this week

Mark Hilliard and Allison Bray

BRITAIN'S twice Olympic gold medal winner is under fire after making anti-Irish joke on live television.

He is considered by many to be the greatest decathlete of all time - picking up gold medals in two consecutive Olympic Games.

The BBC was forced into making an apology after Thompson, who has been tipped to light the Olympic torch during the opening ceremony on Friday, commented that a tattooist who misspelled the word Olympics must have been Irish.

His remark sparked several complaints from viewers of 'The One Show'.

While on air, Thompson was shown an image of a torch runner with the words "Oylmpic torch bearer", tattooed on her arm, to which he said the person responsible for the misspelling must be Irish.

Two of the show's presenters apologised for the gaff. However, in an effort to drive home the point last night, the broadcaster issued a formal response.

"Daley's comments about this were clearly meant as a joke but we apologise if any offence was caused, it certainly wasn't our intention," it said in a statement.

Jenny McShannon, chief executive of the Federation of Irish Societies, said the comment was "unnecessary and totally out of keeping with the spirit of the Olympics".

Thompson won gold medals in the 1980 and 1984 Olympics.

Meanwhile, Irish gymnast Kieran Behan (23) got caught up in his own Olympic odyssey yesterday ahead of next week's gymnastics competition.

Behan set off on an official bus from the athletes' accommodation in the Olympic Park in Stratford for a training session in the North Greenwich Arena. The driver couldn't find his way out of the park. And so Kieran found himself right back where he started, 45 minutes later.

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