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No place for 'NI', says Olympic Team GB

Northern Ireland has become embroiled in another Olympic Games controversy - this time over the British team's name.

The official name of the UK's Olympic team is 'Team Great Britain and Northern Ireland', but this is shortened to 'Team GB'.

Successive Northern Ireland Sports Ministers have lobbied to change the name to 'Team UK', despite the British Olympic Association (BOA) indicating that the Team GB name is here to stay.

A spokesman said the Team GB brand was "an item of intellectual property which has developed over three Olympic cycles".

He said: "The value of the brand is such that it enables the BOA to generate the funds to support the athletes at the Olympic Games."

The team name was one of a number of issues outlined yesterday by Sports Minister Nelson McCausland during a meeting with Department of Culture, Media and Sport Minister (DCMS) Hugh Robertson MP.

Mr McCausland said: "The current naming and branding of the team has the potential to create the perception that Northern Ireland is not part of the British Olympic team.

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"However as we are all aware, Northern Ireland athletes have contributed significantly to the Olympic team's success, particularly in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and this should be recognised in the name and branding.

"Indeed, a change in branding, such as to 'Team UK', would be entirely consistent with the current title for our UK-wide sports body, UK Sport."

Mr Robertson assured Mr McCausland that the Cabinet would be writing to the BOA, asking it to consider changing the name.

Former Sports Minister Gregory Campbell also backs the campaign for "a more geographically accurate description of the Olympic team".

Mr McCausland used the meeting to push for Lottery money to return to Northern Ireland following the Olympics. £39.3m of Lottery funding was diverted away from the province to help finance the London Games and the minister wants it recouped. In 2007 DCMS promised to share proceeds with the Lottery once Olympic assets were sold off.

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