Team Ireland Athletes’ Commission backs the call by the Olympic Federation of Ireland for minor exemptions to be offered to Tokyo focussed athletes to support their return to sport. They are asking for a travel exemption to be offered to a small number of Olympic athletes, and under the strict health protocols that have already been agreed, that Sport Ireland and NGBs are empowered to reopen the Sport Ireland Campus, Sport Ireland Institute and National training centres around the country for small groups of athletes.
Chair of the Olympic Federation of Ireland Athletes’ Commission Shane O’Connor said,
“We are looking for support to allow Olympic athletes train and compete on a level playing field. For some athletes not only are they watching their counterparts in other countries returning to national team training, they are watching other Irish athletes return, athletes competing in the same sport and on the same teams, just because they live marginally closer to a venue.
“We are talking about athletes who are aiming to be in peak condition in a matter of months, who may still need to qualify and who will be fighting for medals at the Olympic Games next year. It is hard to fathom that there are cases where recreational athletes have a better access to facilities than athletes targeting Tokyo, simply because of where they live.
“To date countries like Italy, Croatia, The Netherlands, Spain, Denmark and Belgium have all allowed a prioritised return for Olympic athletes, and Great Britain have recently launched their return for elite athletes – our elite athletes, our medal potentials are now at risk of becoming uncompetitive. We need to recognise that the return of elite sport training is essential ahead of any return to competitive sport itself. In Ireland the plan for a return to sport for elite athletes has not yet been addressed.
“With professional and experienced staff, health protocols and monitoring in place at venues, these small group activities are low risk. We know the support is there from the OFI, Sport Ireland and NGBs but as long as there are travel restrictions in place this small cohort of athletes will be negatively impacted on the international stage.”
Two time Olympian and World Champion rower Sanita Puspure and two time Olympian Brendan Boyce will be speaking at a press briefing with the Olympic Federation of Ireland at 12 noon today, alongside Performance Director for swimming Jon Rudd.