Belfast Telegraph

Olympics chief Sebastian Coe deftly hurdles row over 2012 snub

London Olympics supremo Sebastian Coe last night washed his hands of Northern Ireland’s failure to secure any benefit from the 2012 Games.

The former double gold medallist, who chairs the 2012 Olympics organising committee, said it was a “domestic issue” that expectations for a local role in the games had not been met.

He refused to admit that Northern Ireland had missed out by being the only region in the UK not to host a single sporting event during the Games.

Olympics organisers have come under fire since it was made clear that Northern Ireland will not play any significant part in 2012 activities.

Despite millions of pounds of investment, no international teams have chosen to train here and just 1% of construction contracts for Olympic facilities have gone to local firms.

Lord Coe, the figurehead of the 2012 organising committee, said getting Northern Ireland involved was a “bigger challenge” than in other areas.

“You are in a community further away from London than most,” he said.

“But it isn’t for the organising committee to tell local communities what to do when they know better.

“I recognise that priorities and judgments have to be made and that’s very much a domestic issue.”

Last month the Belfast Telegraph revealed that little or no Olympic activity will take place here.

Sports Minister Nelson McCausland has dismissed claims that the Games will boost the economy as being “exaggerated” and “limited”.

Lord Coe said it was “inconceivable” for him to |discuss local politics surrounding London 2012.

Asked if he felt local people were missing out on the full experience of the 2012 Games, Lord Coe said: “Let me ask you this — do you think Northern Ireland is greater or less for having the Olympic games in London next year?”

Belfast Telegraph

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