Commenting on reports that the Olympic Torch may travel to the Republic prior to the London Games, Pat Hickey, President of the Olympic Council of Ireland said that negotiations were now at a very sensitive stage at the highest Olympic levels.
“We in the Olympic Council have been lobbying for the Torch project for the past three years and are cautiously optimistic that we will get a positive result.
“The final decision will be made by the International Olympic Committee in association with the London Olympic Games Organising Committee (LOCOG) in the coming weeks – and will follow intensive on-going negotiations.
“As a member of the International Olympic Committee, I have had superb support for the Torch concept from Dr. Jacques Rogge, IOC President and his Executive Board. Similarly, I’ve received full encouragement and support from Lord Sebastian Coe, the head of LOCOG.
“All have indicated to me that they are fully behind the Olympic Council of Ireland’s proposal that the Torch should visit both parts of the island of Ireland. The Olympic Torch is a renowned symbol of peace and an all-Ireland visit would be very appropriate as part of the peace process.
“The Irish Government confirmed approval of the concept with me six months ago and agreed to provide the necessary security arrangements. I have since briefed the new Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.
“All along we have focused on the fact that the Irish team for the London Olympics would be an all-Ireland team and that the appearance of the Torch, North and South, would be a further and positive indication of the cooperation that now exists across the island.
“Should the Torch visit go ahead, it will undoubtedly provide a major boost for Irish sport in Olympic year.” said Mr. Hickey.