The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross and the Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin TD, have today welcomed the government’s decision to facilitate the return of high performance athletes and teams as well as their support staff to designated training centres from 8 June.

The return to training is strictly limited to specified athletes and teams at the highest level of Irish sport. In addition to the athletes on the 2020 Sport Ireland International Carding Scheme, the IRFU professional players and the four FAI clubs who are preparing for European competition – Dundalk F.C, Derry City F.C, Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers – are also included.

These athletes and support staff, from 21 different sports, will now be permitted to travel beyond 20 kilometres from their homes to attend scheduled training sessions at the following training centres:

  • Sport Ireland Campus at Blanchardstown
  • Morton Stadium, Santry
  • Irish Sailing High Performance HQ, Dun Laoghaire
  • National Rowing Centre, Ovens, Co. Cork
  • Golf Union of Ireland Academy, Carton House
  • training venues for Dundalk F.C, Derry City F.C, Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers
  • training venues for Connacht, Leinster and Munster Rugby

Sport Ireland will compile a list of athletes that will be permitted to return to training, as well as coaching and support personnel. Sport Ireland and the relevant sporting bodies have developed detailed protocols for social distancing and hygiene drawing on international experience, where many countries have already resumed high performance training. These protocols have been assessed as compliant with public health advice and the government’s Roadmap by the Expert Group on Return to Sport, which was recently established by Ministers Ross and Griffin. Implementation of these protocols will be monitored at the training centres and strict compliance will be ensured at all times.

Minister Ross said:

“I am pleased that we have been able to facilitate a return to training activity for these high performance athletes and teams, especially for the members of Team Ireland. 2020 was to be the pinnacle of their sporting career, but instead they have endured huge disappointment and massive uncertainty. These past weeks have been particularly challenging for everybody concerned. Athletes have sought to maintain their fitness and focus while training at home but that is no substitute for the benefit of using the special training facilities available in dedicated training centres. I am delighted that we can now match the practice elsewhere in Europe and permit athletes to return to training at their national training centres.”

Minister Griffin said:

“I am delighted that it has been possible to facilitate a return to training for our high performance athletes and teams. I have heard first-hand the difficulties that many of these athletes have faced due to the COVID-19 restrictions and the return to training will help them to get back to full fitness. Of course, many are still facing uncertainty as to when they can return to competition but I am pleased that they can at least take this first step to resuming their journey towards achieving their goals in sport.

“Unfortunately, it is not yet possible to extend this accommodation to youth athletes and others; for now, it has to be limited to a defined list of athletes and coaches. While these facilities will be reopened for the athletes concerned, their use will be restricted and subject to strict protocols. I know that there are a great many people who would jump at the chance to return to sporting activity but I would ask for people’s continued patience. We will continue to work hard with all stakeholders to ensure no undue delay in returning to sport at every level.”