A celebration was staged at Belfast City Hall where Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson, the city’s Lord Mayor Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile and Northern Ireland Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, were joined by sports stars Paddy Barnes and Kelly Gallagher, to reveal the 7.5m by 3.4m aluminium model of the famous Olympic logo.
Belfast will be a focal point for celebrations during the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer and will be visited by the Olympic Torch Relay on Sunday 3 June and Wednesday 6 June as it makes its way through the country as part of its ten week journey through Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson said:
“The Olympic Games being held in London is something all of us can share in and enjoy and the turn out today has shown that Northern Ireland is already getting into the spirit.
“There is a great sense of excitement about the Games building throughout Northern Ireland, we hope this is the start of what will be a brilliant summer.”
Belfast is the latest of several eye-catching sites in the UK where giant sets of Olympic rings have been installed. The first was at St Pancras railway station in London in March and has been followed by two more on the River Thames in London and outside Cardiff City Hall. Another will be unveiled in Edinburgh next month.
The 175kg rings were unveiled outside Belfast City Hall during a spectacular family event hosted by Northern Irish television presenter Zoe Salmon.
Olympic mascot Wenlock took part in the free launch event, which featured family entertainment, music, arts and crafts, dance workshops, street theatre, demonstrations from local sports groups and a special performance by a local London 2012 Inspire Project.
Boxer Paddy Barnes, who won a bronze medal in Beijing 2008 Olympics, and Paralympic skier Kelly Gallagher both joined in the fun.
The celebration took place as the Olympic Torch Relay began its journey around Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Land’s End. Another free outdoor event will be held outside Belfast City Hall when the relay returns to the city on Wednesday 6 June.
At the end of the Olympic Games the rings in Belfast will be replaced ahead of the start of the Paralympic Games with a giant version of the Paralympics’ Agitos symbol.