Minister for Sport Jack Chambers is confident there will be a significant increase in the number of fans allowed at outdoor sporting events next month as the Department of Sport finalises plans to increase capacity.
“We’ve 16 pilot events for June and early July and we’re working on updating proposals for government for next week which is about ramping up capacity for July,” he said. “We’ve had low numbers (attending events so far) but we think we can significantly increase that in July.”
Chambers said it was “unfortunate” that Ireland was not able to host the games it was assigned for Euro 2020 due to public health restrictions but he was hopeful of a return to crowds of several thousand at major events by mid-summer.
“Obviously we’re going to update both capacity and ambition for July beyond pilots and that’s about getting a lot more fans back at many more games than you’ve seen in June,” he said. “We’re as ambitious as anyone to get fans back in a safe way. We’re considering a range of options around July. I referenced bubbling which could have a potential net increase in stadia. Other countries have tried antigen testing and screening. That’s being considered as an option. We want to have provisions to get as many fans as back as possible.”
Chambers was speaking at the launch of Sport Ireland’s High Performance Strategy 2021-2032, where it was announced that renowned athletics coach Stephen Maguire was appointed to a new position to lead a transformation of Irish coaching over the next 10 years.
The review of the Rio Games 2016 highlighted the importance of strong governance and the direct impact on performance and the strategy will place an emphasis on that in high-performance programmes over the next period.
High-performance sport will be further supported by the announcement of €1.3million in funding in 2021 as part of round one of the High-Performance Impact Funding Programme.
“The launch is a vote of confidence in our athletes and to reassure them that there is belief in them and their programmes in advance of Tokyo and onwards to Paris,” said Kieran Mulvey, chairman of Sport Ireland. “Their diligence, resilience and determination through the challenges of the pandemic have been extraordinary. Ireland’s athletes and those that support them will be central to the delivery of this strategy.”