The final decision on whether the National Ploughing Championships can go ahead in September will be taken at the end of May or early June, the assistant managing director of the hosting organisation, Annamarie McHugh has said.
Last year 300,00 people attended the annual event which was held in Ballintrane, Fenagh, Co Carlow, where it is due to be located again this year on 15 to 17 September.
All large scale public and sporting events of more than 5,000 people have been
Social and physical distancing would be an issue with that number of people, Ms McHugh told RTÉ radio’s Today with Séan O’Rourke show.
The Ploughing organisation has initiated contact with the government recently, she said, about the possibility of going ahead with the event which features acres of exhibitions along with the ploughing competitions.
“We delayed the issuing of trade packs when the lockdown was announced,” explained Ms McHugh. However, companies are already booking exhibition spaces, she said.
The next step was that engineers would start mapping out the exhibition spaces on the site, but the decision on whether the event could go ahead or not will have to be taken towards the end of May or early June at the latest, she said.
“That is the latest we could make a decision.”
Ms McHugh pointed out that the organisation had coped with the Foot and Mouth outbreak. “We’re quite good at organising, but we’re talking about people here.”
This year is also special for the organisation she said as planning has already commenced for the world ploughing championships which are due to be held in Ireland in 2021.
What’s happening to the country is far more important than ploughing. If there’s any risk, we won’t do it.
Ms McHugh acknowledged that ploughing competitions could take place with appropriate social distancing so that competitors could qualify for the world championships which are due to be held in Russia this year.
However, due to the global pandemic that event was now unlikely to go ahead and there was a possibility that there would be two world championships next year.