FOR the first time the Olympic Torch could be carried through the streets of Dublin if negotiations between the London 2012 organising committee and the OCI President, Pat Hickey, reach a successful conclusion.
Hickey was not present at last night’s annual meeting of the OCI which was held in the Havelock Suite at the Aviva Stadium. He was representing the President of the IOC, Jacques Rogge, at the funeral of Olympic legend, Anton Geesink who a gold medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964.
As president of the European Olympic Committees, Hickey is one of the most powerful figures within the Olympic movement and in his presidential address which was read last night by First Vice President, Willie O’Brien, said relationships between the OCI and the 2012 London organisers are superb.
“As I have often mentioned before, we are treating the London Olympic Games like a home Olympics,” he said. “We are working very hard behind the scenes in preparation for the Games.
“Our relationships with LOCOG, the organising committee, are superb and we are ensuring that everything will be absolutely 100% for the Irish participation. The most important negotiating taking place at the moment is to have the ‘Torch Relay’ just before the games open to move from Belfast to Dublin which I think will be very well received as the torch is a great symbol of peace.”
And a new co-operation agreement signed recently with the Irish Sports Council in preparation for London 2012 could herald a new relationship between the IOC and ISC in the lead-up to the Games.
“I feel a very satisfactory agreement has been arrived at the OCI, for it’s part, will be involved in many joint committees that will be set up between both parties,” he said. “We are looking forward to working closely with them through the London 2012 Games.”
This was welcomed by Sonia O’Sullivan, the Chef de Mission for London 2012, who said everybody wants to work together.
“They know that to be good you have to work together from the bottom up,” she said. “Obviously if you can see that from the bottom you have to see it from the top as well. You can’t put the cart before the horse because, obviously, the people at the top have been there for such a long time. They all have to get together and agree.
“There appears to be a lot of co-operation there. There have been a lot of meetings. Everyone wants to go in united. That’s the way to do it.”
O’Sullivan will have a series of meetings with the various sports over the coming weeks and the standards for qualification will be announced soon.
“Obviously sports like boxing will know what they have to do and I know they will already be working on that,” she said. “For other sports it is different. As regards athletics the standards will be known by the end of the year. We had about 23 athletes in Beijing and 33, the largest team ever, at this year’s European championships in Barcelona so I would expect that the team will be in there somewhere between those numbers.”
Dermot Sherlock, Hon General Secretary, referred to OCI appearances before the Dáil Committee on Arts, Sport and Tourism and their concern at what he described as the long standing imbalance between the legal rights and protection afforded to Oireachtas members compared to those afforded to witnesses giving evidence before Oireachtas Committees.
“A recent change in the law under the Defamation Act of 2009 has given equal protection to all those appearing before such Committees,” he said. “It is gratifying to see at last this inequality has been substantially eliminated.”
He announced that Dr Tom Hunt has been commissioned as author of a history of the OCI and a special presentation was made to Dr Marie-Elaine Grant who has been appointed a member of the IOC Medical Commission.
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