How does level five impact sport in Ireland

Alanna Cunnane

The Coronavirus has already put a stop to world-renowned events such as the Olympics and Euro 2020, but is it set to tackle the GAA championship, Pro 14 and the League of Ireland too?

Under the original Level 5 rules, only essential workers would be allowed to attend their jobs, with everyone else staying within 5km of their home.

Up to 6 people could attend a wedding, and there is a maximum of 10 allowed at a funeral, with all sporting events to be cancelled and only individual training to take place.

However, the recent announcement revealed these levels of restrictions include quite a few amendments. Non-contract training can remain in place for school children in pods of up to 15, and “elite sports” are being allowed to go ahead behind closed doors.

The big question prior to this update from Taoiseach Micheal Martin was whether the GAA was to be considered an elite sport, considering the organisation is the nations’ biggest amateur sporting institution.

This topic was addressed directly, where Martin insisted “Inter-county, professional and elite sports will go ahead. That was a recommendation of NPHET and it’s one we’re staying with.

This comes despite Tánaiste Leo Veradkar’s comments with The Last Word radio show last week, saying that under Level 3 the decision was up to the organisation itself, but at Level 5, it wouldn’t be.

He followed up, by explaining “it is difficult for the GAA in particular, because they are amateur athletes and they can’t be bubbled and cocooned in a way that Premiership players can be, or even provincial rugby players can be.”

A poll conducted with the Gaelic Players Association showed that 52 per cent of county players were happy to proceed with the season, 24 per cent weren’t, with the remaining 24 having the will to play if the Covid-19 protocols were improved.

Several players such as Bevan Duffy, captain of the Louth senior football team have come out saying this is incomprehensible, and he questions why the games would still be played while case numbers are still on the rise.

“We’ve teachers in that dressing room. We’ve lads living at home, a lot of lads living at home with their elderly parentsThere hasn’t been any testing at all, which I can’t get my head around,” he told LMFM.

Such a drastic move had been conducted by the National Basketball Association (NBA)  in America, who successfully made it through an entire season with zero positive Coronavirus cases.

This notion has been condemned by GAA players and pundits alike as unrealistic, as they are amateur sports players and simply don’t have the same resources.

International and professional domestic soccer and rugby matches, horse racing, and greyhound racing have been given the green light under the new regulations, while swimming and golf have been halted due to the closure of leisure centres and courses.

While the move to level five has been supported by the majority of people in Ireland in an effort to keep people safe, the conversation goes on as to whether the dawning of county colours and some football boots make one immune from this deadly virus.

Alanna Cunnane

Image Credit: Sportsfile