The Government addition of the United States and members of the European Union to our list of countries from which travel will require mandatory quarantine is causing a lot of anxiety across sport this morning.

Shane Lowry spoke at the Masters last night about how his caddy and support team were having to fly back to Ireland this morning to beat Thursday’s deadline and be assured of being there for his defence of the Open Championship in July.

He also raised questions over the impact this would have on the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in the same month though it would be hoped we will be in a different place by then.

Closer to hand it adds further complexity to the slim hope that still remains to host four matches in the Euro 2020 finals at the Aviva Stadium.

And closer again it will require clarity before the French team arrive to play in the Women’s Six Nations next Saturday.

A statement from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and media yesterday said that “engagements are ongoing between government departments to develop options to facilitate sporting activity involving travel to and from countries on the mandatory quarantine list.”

The same would be needed for the Leinster team to return from the Heineken Cup Quarterfinal against La Rochelle at the end of this month and there are many other potential challenges that will have to be overcome, including the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup.

The Women’s Six Nations game is scheduled to be played at Energia Park in Donnybrook. It could potentially be moved to Kingspan Stadium in Belfast due to there being no travel restrictions between the UK and France or between the UK and Ireland.

The optics of finding a loophole might not be great but it would be a desperate shame not to find a way of getting the crunch game played after the excitement of the 45-0 win over Wales on Saturday.

Finding a way to create a mechanic for sporting exemptions will also be carefully watched out for by Olympic and Paralympic athletes who have qualification tournaments coming up ahead of Tokyo 2020.

The countries affected as of this morning are:

Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Curacao, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, France, French Guiana, Guyana, Italy, Kenya, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Malawi, Eswatini, Maldive Islands, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Rwanda, Suriname, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Exemptions are in place for diplomats and politicians returning on work-related travel, members of an Garda Síochana and the Defence Forces, as well as in certain other circumstances.


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