IF this contrite statement is anything to go by, DUP Sports Minster Nelson McCausland must have hauled Sport NI chief executive Eamonn McCartan over the coals for listing off on TV reasons why we weren’t attracting Olympic interest. McCartan told the BBC that no Olympic teams had committed to train here for the 2012 Games due to our violent image, the threat from dissidents, geographical location, travel costs and access to Olympics venues.
His despondent forecast neatly echoes, er, fellow DUP Assemblyman Peter Weir, who rightly predicted back in July that Northern Ireland faced “an uphill battle” to attact Olympic interest. He added: “The idea that Northern Ireland is ultimately ever going to get a major chunk of the activities surrounding the Olympics is, I think, a degree of wishful thinking on some people’s parts.”
…and presumably nothing to do with the fact that Northern Ireland’s first Olympic-sized pool won’t be ready in time for the Olympics, despite the original target completion date of two years ago and offering our only chance of getting a team of swimmers (not divers) to train here. It’s in Weir’s North Down constituency, natch.
Combine that with the fact that the Maze stadium project is dead (on the DUP’s watch too), the debacle over submitting bids for training camps minutes after the deadline expired, the relatively pitiful number of construction bids secured by NI companies, and the diversion of Lottery funding from projects here to subsidise the Olympics and it’s entirely possible that the Olympics will not only pass us by completely, but that we’ll be out of pocket too.