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London 2012 Bid Rivals "Exploit" Dispute Between Officials

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The Evening Standard reports that some of London’s rivals for the 2012 Summer Olympic Game have already started exploiting a dispute between British and Irish officials over Northern Ireland, which could seriously damage London’s 2012 bid.

It has prompted Ireland’s International Olympic Committee member Patrick Hickey, to say that the British Olympic Association, who organizes the Athens 2004 team, could look like “clowns”.

The dispute began when the Olympic Council of Ireland, which says it has traditionally had jurisdiction over the area, is angry that the British Olympic Association has suddenly decided to add the words “Northern Ireland” to their team contracts for the Athens Games.

The Irish see the move as a threat to the future of all-Ireland sports teams, reports the newspaper.

Hickey said that several bid cities who want to take advantage of London’s problems had contacted him since the Evening Standard broke the story about the dispute.

He said, “the Olympic bid cities have cottoned on to it. There have been phone calls of commiseration from other cities saying this is disgraceful. They are on to it like a flash and they are utilizing it”.

He refused to say which of the other eight bid cities had contacted him, but he said he wrote a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) about the row. And the Evening Standard said it learned that IOC President Jacques Rogge had held a special meeting on Northern Ireland last Monday.

But reports say that Rogge does not want to step into the dispute. IOC Communications Director Giselle Davis said, “this is an issue between the two national Olympic committees and we trust they will resolve it. There has been no contact with us to intervene”.

There are conflicting reports that London 2012 officials say the dispute is the responsibility of the two Olympic committees. But it’s reported that bid leader Barbara Cassani is known to be very frustrated by the problem and has been working behind the scenes for a solution.

Hickey said, “they would have to withdraw those letters in the team agreement where they have added Northern Ireland. Otherwise they will look completely foolish when we turn up in Athens with seven to 10 members of our team from Northern Ireland and nobody from Northern Ireland on the British team. They would look like clowns”. Write or read comments about this article

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