Covid-19: Thousands denied indoor sport due to Sport Ireland rules

TDs raise concerns that guidelines discriminate against unvaccinated children under 12

Taoiseach Micheál Martin described basketball as ‘a great sport’ and pledged to do ‘everything we possibly can to facilitate its restoration in these difficult Covid times’. File photograph: Getty

Taoiseach Micheál Martin described basketball as ‘a great sport’ and pledged to do ‘everything we possibly can to facilitate its restoration in these difficult Covid times’. File photograph: Getty

 

Thousands of people are being “robbed” of the opportunity to play indoor sports including basketball because of Sport Ireland’s coronavirus guidelines, the Dáil has been told.

Several TDs raised concerns that the latest regulations from the State authority – which overseas the development of sport – discriminate against unvaccinated children under 12.

The new guidelines require anyone playing indoors to have a vaccination certificate. Consequently, children under 12 who are ineligible for vaccination are unable to play sports held indoors, particularly basketball.

Fine Gael Dublin Rathdown TD Neale Richmond said that like many colleagues “my office has 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”.

He appealed for “clarity” to be provided “to the thousands of people who are being robbed of their opportunity to participate in these sports”.

Fine Gael Dublin Mid-West TD Emer Higgins said “the decision has 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.”

Valid certificate

Ms Higgins said many constituents in Lucan and Clondalkin had raised the issue with her, noting that “only those who can present a valid Covid-19 certificate or proof of recovery . . . can train or play matches indoors. That’s regardless of whether a vaccine has been offered to their age cohort.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin described basketball as “a great sport” and pledged to do “everything we possibly can to facilitate its restoration in these difficult Covid times”.

He said that Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers spoke to him about it before he came into the Dáil and they would be discussing it again later.

A spokesman for the Taoiseach said later that he had not yet had a chance to deal with the matter as he was at the Cabinet sub-committee meeting on the Climate Action Plan and also had the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party to attend.