Dumb it down
So what's the story with Daley Thompson being anti-Irish?
In the week that will see the Olympic Games kick off amid much fanfare in London, Daley Thompson has grabbed the headlines ... in a way he didn’t really want.
I heard something about this. What’s the scéal?
Well Daley Thompson, who has claims on being the greatest Olympian ever to represent Great Britain, found himself in a spot of bother following a TV appearance on BBC last week. On the face of it, an interview on The One Show, BBC 1’s flagship early evening chat show, was a great opportunity for Thompson to underline his place as the leading contender to light the Olympic torch in Friday night’s Danny Boyle-directed opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium. But to say he did the opposite is a bit of an understatement.
What did he do?
Well as instant negative influences go Daley was rivalling Tyrone’s Brian McGuigan this weekend. He was on the show about a minute, and they hadn’t even got into the bones of the interview before he joked about the nationality of some dim-witted tattooist who misspelled the word “Olympic” in a torch-bearer’s tattoo last week. “It must have been an Irish tattooist,” he laughed.
Ouch. And in the week that there was an anti-Irish march in the UK too...
Yep, pretty badly timed all round, really.
So what’s the fall-out?
Well the presenters of The One Show, Matt Baker and Alex Jones, both apologised separately during the show and the BBC today issued an apology on foot of complaints:
“We've received complaints from some viewers unhappy with a comment made by Daley Thompson during The One Show on Thursday 19 July 2012.
“Thompson['s] comments about this were clearly meant as a joke but we apologise if any offence was caused, it certainly wasn't our intention.”
We’re being too hard on him, really, no?
Eh, not so fast. Thompson hasn’t exactly been endearing himself to anyone over the last few days really, because at the weekend he sounded even more like a twat by slagging off the achievements of one of his rivals for the lighting-the-torch honour, five-time Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave:
“He is a rower and I think track and field is the toughest sport in the Olympics... In my view Seb [Coe] is the second greatest Olympian – after myself.”
Ooh, modest. He did say that only after Redgrave had a cut at him first though, right? Did Redgrave not say Thompson wouldn’t be in his top five British Olympians?
He sure did. There’s two of them in it alright. But we’re on Redgrave’s side. He clearly has a bit more respect for our education system to joke about Irish spelling.
So what happens next?
Well it seems the delightfully juvenile jibes of these two highly decorated Olympians will mean neither of them gets to light the Olympic flame on Friday night. The organisers have apparently come up with a novel solution, although they’re saying no more at this stage.