Dublin to host Olympic torch relay


Dublin will be on the torch relay route for next year's London Olympics with the Irish capital hosting the flame on June 6th, the International Olympic Committee and organisers LOCOG said today.

"It's going to be a one-day event," Gilbert Felli, executive director of the Olympic Games, told reporters. "It is why it took a bit of time [to finalise]. We always pop into the neighbouring countries. Knowing the sensibility of the issue here we wanted to make sure the government was in the loop." Organisers LOCOG said the flame would arrive in Dublin in the morning of June 6 and be carried through the city before a mid-morning celebration at a central location.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny welcomed today's announcement and said it would put Ireland "centre-stage" in the immediate run-in  to the games.

"I am delighted that the Olympic Flame will travel across the border into the Republic next year," said Minister for Tourism Michael Ring in a statement.

"This historic occasion recognises the friendship, peace and co-operation that now exists on the island of Ireland and demonstrates the unifying power of sport.

"A number of international teams have already chosen Dublin as a training base before the London Games. The visit of the Olympic flame next year will be a wonderful opportunity for the whole of Ireland to be even more closely involved with the 2012 London Olympic Games and for Irish people to be part of the biggest sporting event in the world," added Ring.

The 70-day torch relay will travel some 12,800 kms around Britain, taking in 1,018 villages and the 1,085-metre summit of Snowdon, before culminating with the lighting of the Olympic cauldron on July 27th.

The relay will also take in landmarks around Britain with the flame travelling at times by canal boat, cable car, tram, team train, hot air balloon and even motorcycle sidecar on the Isle of Man TT course. More than 95 per cent of the population will be within an hour of the route.

London has chosen a lower profile relay than the protest-marred international route to Beijing in 2008, which included the problematic ascent of Everest.

Organisers made the first conditional offers today to some of the 8,000 torch bearers who will take part in the relay.

Some 90 per cent of the places were made available to people nominated through public campaigns run by LOCOG and sponsor partners while the remainder are by invitation.