London’s rivals for the 2012 Olympics have already started exploiting a row between British and Irish officials over Northern Ireland which could seriously damage the bid, Standard Sport can reveal today.
The row has become so inflamed that Ireland’s International Olympic Committee member Patrick Hickey, one of the leading figures in European sport, has said the British Olympic Association, who organise this summer’s team for Athens, could look like “clowns”.
The Olympic Council of Ireland, who say they have traditionally had jurisdiction over the area, is angry that the BOA have suddenly decided to add the words “Northern Ireland” to their team contracts for the Athens Olympics.
But what is so clownish about that? This story explains the situation rather better:
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”.
Yes, that would be clownish all right. But there is more involved than that. The Irish suspect that the British use of the words “Northern Ireland” in those team contracts could be a sign of action to come, at some time in the future. Back to the Standard:
The BOA strongly deny they have attempted to change anything and played down the dispute. The Irish see the move as a threat to the future of all-Ireland sports teams. …
Odd, those “all-Ireland” sports teams. The only game I know about in this connection is Rugby Union. (Irish people do not concern themselves with cricket very much.) And yes, next Saturday, the opening match of the Six Nations Rugby Union championship will be France v. Ireland, at the Stade de France in Paris. Ireland as in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, with two different Irish national anthems if I am not mistaken. No doubt this arrangement was arrived at during an era when sport and politics inhabited different universes, and the politicians regarded what the sportsmen did as entirely the business of the sportsmen. Also, in former times, whatever arrangements the British made with their neighbours were no-one else’s business. Now, sport is big business and big politics, and Britain is just one beast in the global sporting pack. Now, the mere wording of a team contract can take on a huge international significance:
Hickey revealed today that several bidding cities, keen to take advantage of London’s problems, had already contacted him since this newspaper broke the story about the dispute last week.
My guess is it was one of David’s lawyer friends (all lawyers know all other lawyers – this is a well known fact) who wrote those contracts, in a deliberately provocative manner, and then rang up all the competing cities to tell them about this row. After all, if enough people say there is a row, there is!
So David’s No Olympics for London campaign is getting nicely into gear, and I congratulate him on progress so far.