Sport Ireland have today issued guidance as sports clubs around the country to prepare to return to action on June 29.
The easing of lockdown restrictions will mean that phase three in the government's Roadmap for the Reopening of Society and Business will see a number of sports allowed to return. Sport Ireland have issued guidance surrounding aspects of that return. These aspects include competition and training, considerations for participation in sport by people with disabilities or older people, and summer camps.
In terms of competition and training, Sport Ireland stress that participation should be on an 'opt-in' basis. Those who do not want to return to action should not be penalised for their decision. Furthermore, Sport Ireland state that a return to competition should be slowed in order to allow an optimal amount of training. This should be done in order to minimise injury.
Also, contact will be permitted, however, it should be limited to training and competition only. Strict physical distancing protocols should be in place outside the field and adhered to at all times. Furthermore, Covid-19 measures should be incorporated into all competition documents to form a normal part of the sport’s delivery.
Guidelines surrounding people with disabilities and older people stress necessary steps in order to stop the spread of infection.
- Consider DATE (distance, activity, time, environment)
- Ensure daily symptom checks
- Limit the number of participants
- Limit the duration of the activity
- Consider the contact (proximity, direct touch, equipment sharing) and minimise where possible.
- Train outdoors
- Consider the use of PPE for assisting the participant (for example, if they require assistance getting onto a bike). It is accepted that the use of PPE during sporting activities is not generally advised, however its use is promoted outside of field of play, where guidelines suggest.
Summer camps also come under Sport Ireland's remit. The organisation's guidelines have stated that numbers within the camps shouldn't be more than 15. Furthermore, the guidance also states that camps should take place outdoors when applicable.
Sport Ireland's John Treacy acknowledges the roles that club members can play in stymying the spread of COVID-19.
“It is important that members continue to support their clubs. There has been evidence of refunds on membership fees being sought and it is important to stress that should such organisations be required to refund registration fees, it would, quite simply, collapse those organisations which would have a devastating impact on the sporting infrastructure.
“Our National Governing Bodies are working hard to ensure some semblance of normality returns as quickly and as safely as possible. They do acknowledge and regret that the 2020 schedule of sporting fixtures, games, events and competitions cannot be provided in full.
"Unfortunately, that is not confined to sport and is seen across wider society. It is understood and appreciated that this is a difficult time for many people financially but, where people can afford it, our NGBs, associations and clubs would really appreciate if members and participants would consider supporting them through this crisis.
"The vital income that membership and affiliation fees generates will have a positive impact on the future sporting landscape. I thank people for their understanding and can speak for us all when I say we are looking forward to returning to the sport we love in the very near future.”
Sport Ireland has also issued Health Considerations for Returning to Sport during Covid-19. That advice can be downloaded here.