The Federation of Irish Sport recognises the need for continued focus on public health measures and fully appreciates the seriousness of the situation since December. However, we are concerned on how little detail was available on the reopening of sport and physical activity in the Government’s  “Living with COVID” plan announced yesterday. As we have said on many occasions, we firmly believe that Sport and Physical Activity in all its forms is going to play a crucial role in restoring both the physical and mental health of the country as we come out of lockdown. While we would not expect a plan to include specific dates at this point in time, we strongly believe that a strategy, and indeed Roadmap, for the reopening of sport, beyond the definitions allowed for at level 5 would have provided a much needed lift for all.

The Federation and its members have expressed concerns about the underlying issues created and fostered by this pandemic and associated restrictions. The absence of sport and physical activity are most certainly contributing to issues of isolation, mental health, physical inactivity, social inclusion issues and access to sport for people with a disability. We have always stressed that Sport and Physical Activity must be part of the long-term solution to the pandemic and we understand that Government shares that view. However, we need to see this perspective included in government plans moving forward and a clear outline of when our organisations, and their clubs can return to supporting the health and wellbeing of their communities in a meaningful way.

We strongly believe that a roadmap that sets out the Government’s thinking on the phased reopening of all sport and physical activity is essential and that it be published as soon as possible, if only to demonstrate the Government’s commitment to the role that sport and physical activity can and will play as we exit this pandemic.

While that is our priority, we would also hope that Government gives every consideration as to how organized sport will need to be funded beyond when the sector re-opens. In that context the Federation must acknowledge the government financial supports to date which have been welcomed by all in sport. The resilience and recovery package delivered in 2020 was a light at a very dark time for many sporting bodies. However, those supports did not factor in a longer term set of restrictions and it is imperative now that further supports are considered for sporting bodies, of all size, in the governments forthcoming National Recovery and Resilience Plan.