Windsor Park snub for Ireland Rio heroes 'an oversight'
The decision not to invite a Team Ireland paralympian to the reopening ceremony of Windsor Park was just an oversight, the agent of one of the gold medallists at the centre of the controversy has said.
It began when five-time Paralympian gold medallist Jason Smyth was not invited to take part in the star-studded ‘lap of legends’ at the beginning of Saturday’s game.
Fellow Team Ireland Paralympian Michael McKillop, who was also not invited, said he would love to have attended the opening. He told the BBC: “You could say it’s coming down to politics and who you compete for and that’s really unfortunate because I’ve always represented the island.
“Politics should never come into sport.”
However, McKillop’s agent, Colin Kennedy, said that the incident was a simple oversight by the IFA, and not at all political.
Kennedy said: “The IFA had forgotten but as soon as they were made aware they corrected it immediately. And apology was forthcoming and I took it at face value.”
The lap featured boxer Carl Frampton, Team GB Paralympian swimmer Bethany Firth and actor James Nesbitt, as well as NI footballing legends Sammy McIlroy and Pat Jennings.
The IFA stressed that the exclusion of certain athletes was not at all intentional and purely due to organisational and timing difficulties. According to the BBC, Team Ireland boxers Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan were also not invited, but would have considered going if they were.