November 06, 2014
New Balance signs on as official sponsor for Olympic Council of Ireland

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Any potential revival of the old “gear” row in the run up the Rio Olympics in 2016 has been averted with the announcement that the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has signed a new sponsorship deal with New Balance sportswear.New Balance will provide all Irish Olympic team gear from next year, starting with the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, up to an including Rio in 2016.Earlier this year Athletics Ireland also announced a new sponsorship deal with New Balance, also set to last through to Rio, which means there won’t be any potential conflict of interest which infamously marred the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, when the OCI, then sponsored by Reebok, and Athletics Ireland, then sponsored by Asics, both claimed athletes should wear their brand in competition – and which resulted in Sonia O’Sullivan being asked to strip from her Reebok gear to Asics before her 5,000 metres final. Clarified situation The OCI have since clarified their right to demand athletes wear their chosen brand of gear, although any potential conflict was also avoided in London last summer when both the OCI and Athletics Ireland were sponsored by Asics.Pat Hickey, president of the OCI, said: “With this New Balance sponsorship, I believe that our athletes will be very happy with the results and that this dynamic company will provide the best quality design, fit and clothing textures needed for top Olympic performances.”
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