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Ireland hopes for Olympics spinoff

Ireland's sports minister, Leo Varadkar, has said his department intends to use the 2012 London Olympic Games as an opportunity to boost tourist numbers.

Varadkar said plans were well advanced to attract extra visitors who would add to their Olympic experience with a trip to Ireland.

"We are looking at things that we can do with visas, to make it easier for people who are visiting Britain to make a short hop to Ireland before or after the Olympics," he said.

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"There is a commitment in the program for government to improve the visa situation and make it easier for people who want to visit Ireland to do so, and we're working closely with the department of justice on that," he added.

Under current legislation, citizens of countries such as Brazil, China, India and Russia require a separate 90-day visa if they want to come to Ireland as well as Britain, but the minister said moves were under way to remove that obstacle.

Several Olympic teams are basing themselves in Ireland prior to the start of the London games. Among them is the United States synchronized swimming team which will be using the National Aquatic Center in Dublin for training.

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