IRELAND’S OLYMPIC ATHLETES will not be attending any public homecoming event, as a group, after they return from the London 2012 Games on Monday afternoon.
Authorities in Dublin City Council had been preparing to host crowds welcoming Ireland’s 66 Olympians when they officially return home in two days’ time.
But the council says the remaining Irish athletes who’ll be departing after tomorrow night’s closing ceremony are simply worn out after two weeks of events – and would prefer to spend some time at home first.
However, TheJournal.ie understands that plans are being made to hold a formal State event honouring Ireland’s participants at Farmleigh in about a fortnight’s time, once the Olympians had been given a chance to spend some time at home first.
A formal reception at Áras an Úachtaráin is also likely to be held in the next few months. Either of these two events may be combined with a public reception in the capital.
Individual town councils are still likely to hold events honouring their own athletes, with events planned in Bray and Mullingar to honour those towns’ respective boxing medallists, Katie Taylor and John Joe Nevin.
A Dublin City Council spokesman said the council had looked into holding an open-air event on Dawson Street, outside the Mansion House – similar to that held after Ireland’s rugby team won the Six Nations in 2009 – to “give the public a chance to show their appreciation”.
The Olympic Council of Ireland had indicated, however, that the athletes felt they would “like to go home to their families, their communities and their friends” whenever they could.
The athletes “have been away in competition for a good while now,” the spokesman said.
On the road for weeks
The Olympics officially started 15 days ago, though some athletes will have been away in training camps ahead of the games – while track athletes had little break after the European athletics championships in Helsinki, which ended less than three weeks before London 2012.
A Dublin Airport Authority spokesman also indicated that athletes “are tired and want to be reunited with friends and family”.
The DAA understood at the athletes’ preference “is not to have such an event at this time,” the spokesman said. “We fully respect that decision.”
While the airport will facilitate a press conference on Monday, this will be held in a restricted airside area and will not be open for public entry.
Irish athletes have so far won five medals at London 2012, equalling the all-time record haul from Melbourne 1956.
On that occasion, Ireland won one gold, one silver and three bronze medals – a tally will at least be matched by the 2012 team, and may be bettered if Nevin can turn his silver medal to gold in his bantamweight final tonight.