RTÉ said sport presenter Bill O’Herlihy never intended to cause offence with comments he made during coverage of Chloe Magee’s opening badminton match of the Olympic Games on Sunday night.
The Raphoe native defeated Egypt’s Hadia Hosny, 21-17, 21-6.
During the broadcast, Mr. O’Herlihy said, “Do you know something, when I was a young fella growing up badminton was considered a Protestant game in a sense -- it was played by Protestants mainly -- but it has exploded completely now. It’s a completely different game now, isn’t it?”
People called the comments inappropriate in discussions on internet forums.
“Bill’s comment was a personal observation which, as he stated, is completely at odds with the modern game,” an RTÉ spokesperson said, adding that the presenter “never intended to cause any offence by the comment”.
“I think it’s very important that we remember what the Olympics games are all about -- the Olympics are about participation in sport,” Chloe Magee told Highland Radio yesterday. “There are people from all over the world here. There are religions from all over the world here.” She said she did not think people should take the comments too seriously.
Church of Ireland Canon David Crooks of Carrigans said sport should not be categorised by religion or politics. “If people engage in sport and play it to the best of their ability and work hard at it, it doesn’t matter where they come from or who they are,” he said. He added, “Don’t forget that Sam Maguire was a Protestant.”