AAI now full member of OCI


A significant step was taken yesterday in bringing together the two warring sports federations, the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) and the Athletics Association of Ireland (AAI) when the OCI announced that the athletics federation is to be given full voting membership of the OCI.

On this issue, at least, it brings to a close the fractious exchanges between the two bodies after the biggest Olympic sport was left out of the OCI decision-making process when the athletics governing body changed its name to the AAI and in the process had also to change its constitution. The OCI, until now, had refused to accept the new AAI based on the fact that it did not have its new constitution fully completed. The OCI's refusal to accept the new AAI, which was welcomed broadly by politicians in the bringing together of several disparate athletics associations, has caused considerable friction between the two organisations.

The decision, made at the OCI's Executive Committee meeting of Monday last was based on the fact that the AAI's process of affiliation to the IAAF had been completed and on the assumption that the AAI constitution would shortly be completed and it would be in compliance with the Olympic charter. "We are delighted that such a major sporting federation is now fully affiliated to the OCI," said OCI president Pat Hickey. "We now look forward to working closely with the AAI for the betterment of Irish sport."

Christy Wall, secretary of the AAI was equally positive: "The AAI are delighted with this development. It is a fantastic message to everyone involved in the AAI. We hope that the positive impact the AAI have had in the past will continue to be of some benefit to the OCI."

The OCI, however, noted that the AAI's case for OCI affiliation was unique and that in making a specific exception for them to its policy for affiliation, it was not setting any precedent for future applications for full voting membership.