herald

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Bill slammed after 'Protestant' badminton gaffe

AN Olympian has hit out at RTE presenter Bill O'Herlihy after he claimed that badminton used to be played "mainly by Protestants".

The veteran sports host has risked a religious backlash with his comments after Chloe Magee won her first match at the London Games.

Ms Magee has described the commentary as "stupid".

The Donegal woman, who plays a must-win game today, said religion has nothing to do with the game. "We need to remember what the Olympics is all about," she said. "I don't think it is any different from any other sport. There are people here from all over the world and from many different religions."

However, the 23-year-old is willing to give Mr O'Herlihy the benefit of the doubt. "I'm sure he (O'Herlihy) didn't mean to say it the way he said it," she said.

She added she thought the comment was "stupid" and had never before heard religion mentioned in relation to badminton.

RTE has confirmed it had received complaints.

O'Herlihy had said that when he was growing up "it was seen as a Protestant sport". The comments provoked fury on social media sites.

Magee beat Egyptian Hadia Hosny on Sunday after a nervous start. It was the first ever win at the Olympic Games for Ireland's number one female player. Bill O'Herlihy was unavailable for comment.

hnews@herald.ie