Sport Looking to Escape Covid Holding Pattern

Sport is in a holding pattern with national governing bodies seeking clarity on what the deeper restrictions on match attendance and training will mean across the widest sporting spectrum.

Media and social commentary has talked of the danger of the government ‘losing the dressing room’ with sport having played by all the rules so far and shown itself as an invaluable force for good and community cohesion during the lockdown.

Inverted commas have been put around the phrase “behind closed doors” as bodies wrestle with the reality of camps, training and matches going at full pelt across the country.

The GAA is to the fore in terms of the number of sessions affected and also in the difficult conversations taking place on the airwaves.

There has been criticism of the call for evidence and accusations of putting themselves above the general good but you can only imagine this is from those who would find fault in the Association for one reason after another.

The reality is that sport has played by the rules but now finds itself in a position where parents cannot gather outdoors to watch their children, though if there was a pub nearby they could all watch through a window from inside while having a few pints.

We believe that getting to the right solution can take time and that this is a precious commodity when fighting a virulent virus.  It is a shame that the restrictions could not have been run past the Government’s own appointed expert group to head off unnecessary criticism but hopefully, that will happen over the coming hours and days.

Some games have already been called off and it may be that the natural force of Storm Ellen will buy time to get things done right as well.

If there is a link to sports gatherings then fair enough but until that becomes visible there is a clear gap in the logic of what has been proposed.

The GAA has this afternoon issued a statement, shared with Ladies Football and Camogie, which reads:

Following last night’s government announcement the GAA is seeking clarification on a number of issues relating to the organisation of our Gaelic Games and activities (26 Counties).

As soon as we get clarity on these issues we will update our units.

In the meantime, as games must now be played “behind closed doors”, no more than 40 persons per team should be allowed access to games for the moment. This figure should include all players, management, coaches, ancillary backroom personnel and team officials.

The 80 team personnel (40 per team) is in addition to essential match day personnel such as Match officials (Referees, Linesmen, Umpires), Media and event officials (stewards etc.)

While we await further clarification on the issue of parents attending juvenile games we suggest that one parent or guardian may attend a game where they consider it necessary for the welfare of their own child.

Cúl Camps and Team training should continue for the moment on the basis of no more than 15 people (including coaches) in a designated area of the field.

As ever, the Association asks units and members do their utmost to protect public health and we are very grateful for all of your efforts in this regard.

Basketball Ireland has also called for clarity in relation to indoor gatherings where dance and exercise are referenced as being restricted to six individuals but there is no mention of indoor sport.

In another statement issued this afternoon they have said:

Basketball Ireland is in contact with Sport Ireland over the Government’s guidelines issued on Tuesday.


Basketball Ireland believes that the latest Government statement on Covid-19 restrictions is confusing when viewed from a sports perspective and we hope to get clarification in the next 24 to 48 hours.


The current government text makes no specific mention of indoor training, merely “limits of 6 apply to exercise and dance classes” (government statement) and Basketball Ireland is awaiting clarification. Once this has been provided we will also be seeking out what exceptions, if any, will be made for elite level basketball at international and National League level.


We await for clear guidance to be given to Sport Ireland and subsequently passed on to National Governing Bodies. We shall then immediately inform our clubs as to the updated protocols. Clubs should avoid organising training sessions of more than 6 people until this clarification is received.

Clubs and individuals will continue to do the right thing once they believe it is.  The present danger is that they look around and see alternative activities that produce more financial but less community gain being treated differently.



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