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Volume 6 No. 215

Events and Attractions

The British Isles "will host six days of grand tour cycling next year" after it was confirmed that the 2014 Giro d’Italia will start in Northern Ireland, according to Josh Burrows of the LONDON TIMES. The opening three stages of the race "will be held on roads either side of the Irish border," traveling through Belfast, Armagh and Dublin between May 10-12. Giro d'Italia Head Michele Acquarone said, "Belfast will provide spectacular backdrops for the 2014 Grand Partenza (Big Start) and will add something very special into the history of this great cycling event" (LONDON TIMES, 2/21). The IRISH INDEPENDENT wrote the news "comes hot on the heels" of last month's announcement that the first three stages of the 2014 Tour de France will be in England, with two in Yorkshire and the third finishing in The Mall in London. More than 200 of the top professional cyclists from across the world will be in Northern Ireland to take part and "there will be a supporting programme of events and activities." The Giro is expected to attract around €12M ($15.8M) worth of int'l media coverage. Northern Ireland Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said, "Plans are already in motion to make the occasion a fabulous celebration worthy of Italian cycling traditions and the maglia rosa (pink jersey) itself" (IRISH INDEPENDENT, 2/21).

BIG INVESTMENT: In Dublin, Dan Keenan wrote Northern authorities are investing some £4.2M ($6.4M) which is "expected to generate" some £10M ($15.2M) for the local economy. It is "hoped further long term benefits will follow from the exposure of the event" in Ireland to the anticipated global audience of 775 million across 165 countries. Foster added that she "anticipated some 140,000 visitors would be attracted North to the race." Foster: “This is the opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland as an exciting destination, as a cycling destination and a prime location for major international sports events” (IRISH TIMES, 2/21).

The government of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu said that it "will not host" the upcoming Asian Athletics Championships as athletes from Sri Lanka are participating in the event to be held in this country after a gap of nearly 20 years. State Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa announced the news at a press conference in capital Chennai, a day after she had described the alleged "cold blooded" killing of slain Tamil Tigers' chief V. Prabhakaran 's 12-year-old son Balachandran by Sri Lankan military in custody as a "war crime." Jayalalithaa said, "Sri Lanka's participation would hurt people's sentiments in Tamil Nadu" (XINHUA, 2/21).

ON THE MOVE: The PTI reported the Athletics Federation of India has said that it would "try its best to hold the Asian Athletics Championship in another city." An AFI official said, "The final decision of the venue of the event will be taken by the executive committee of the Asian Athletics Association. It is up to them to decide whether the event will remain in India or not, but certainly we would like to hold the championship in another city of India if the Tamil Nadu government refuses to host it." Top officials of the AFI "refused to comment on the development," saying that they would first examine the reason behind the cancellation only after receiving an official communication (PTI, 2/21).