Covid-19 regulations for sports amended to allow youths play indoors

Basketball games and competitions for under 18s had been halted due to pandemic related issue

Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers has confirmed that a resolution has been reached to allow indoor games and competitions for under 18s to resume.

Basketball Ireland had cancelled league games and competitions following a change in Sport Ireland regulations which required anyone playing indoors to either have a Covid-19 vaccination certificate or proof of a negative PCR test.

A number of TDs had raised the issue in the Dáil pointing out that many children are ineligible for Covid-19 vaccination and that the rules discriminated against them. Other sports including squash and volleyball were also affected.

Mr Chambers said on Twitter on Thursday that the Government “has agreed to address the issue of under 18 games/competitions particularly for basketball @BballIrl amongst other indoor sports”.

“This has been amended so indoor games/competitions can take place for under 18s and @sportireland will provide detail to sporting organisations,” he said.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin described basketball as “a great sport” when the issue was raised in the Dáil on Wednesday. He pledged to do “everything we possibly can to facilitate its restoration in these difficult Covid times”.

Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond said his office had been “inundated over the past week with representations from parents, coaches, administrators and players of a range of indoor sports, specifically basketball, regarding the most recent guidelines introduced by Sport Ireland”.

Fine Gael Dublin Mid-West TD Emer Higgins said the decision had "blindsided many younger players and their coaches".

She said that while vaccination “is the best way to protect us from Covid-19, it’s unfair to discriminate against children under 12 years old like this.

“They can go to school and to the cinema, they can go dancing or swimming and they can go to restaurants and many other places. So it’s not fair to single out basketball and other indoor sports in this way,” she said.