The Government has outlined further details of their plans for a quarantine system of essential international travel for elite athletes.
Minister of State at the Department of Sport Jack Chambers says the “final details are still being worked on” but the system will allow athletes to continue training on their return to Ireland from participating in sporting events abroad.
“What we are seeking to put in place is an equivalent system to mandatory hotel quarantine for the purposes of allowing for our high-performance athletes to continue to train and participate in international events,” said Chambers.
“This is crucial for athletes who are trying to qualify for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the coming period for example.
“It is crucial we have an equivalent system that is of the same public health standard as the standard hotel quarantine regime but enables athletes and teams to continue to train and participate in sporting activity only. Athletes would be otherwise isolated, they could not go anywhere else or meet a family member for example. It is just to allow for their sporting activity.
“Working within the regulations that the Minister for Health (Stephen Donnelly) is bringing in, if the travel is essential, the relevant governing body will have to submit a request to Sport Ireland who will work with the HSE.
“Their approval will be based on satisfactory quarantine arrangements that meet the standard being agreed upon arrival in Ireland.
“There will be very strict and clear protocols in place with an approval process that is underpinned by public health.
“Many of our Olympians and Paralympians who are trying to qualify for the games later in the summer still have to qualify. There’s an event for example for Paralympic classification in Italy mid-April.
“If an athlete is due to participate in that, on their return they have a requirement to continue their training so they can prepare for the Games themselves so what we’ll be putting in place is a very clear system underpinned by public health which is a comparative system to mandatory quarantine.
“The only exception is that they’re allowed to continue to train. But the same principles apply. They won’t be allowed to interact with the broader public or won’t be able to go to the shop for example. So we’re putting in place a very robust system that allows them to continue their specific sporting activity but that we’re still upholding public health.
“Sport Ireland are engaging with hotel providers, for example, so that we do uphold that public health rationale and that principle.
“There may be governing bodies that present a plan that doesn’t meet that equivalence, and if they don’t then they won’t be given the certification to continue that activity.
“There’ll be absolute oversight of that, just to be clear our athletes will only be enabled to continue their specific training activity, there has to be absolute adherence to that and any breach will be taken very seriously.”