Paris Olympics hopefuls to return to training in April after Covid restrictions eased

Olympic Federation feared Ireland’s hopes of victory in 2024 could be damaged

The Government decided on Tuesday to allow more high performance sports training from April 19th along with a return for senior inter-county GAA teams.  Photograph: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

The Government decided on Tuesday to allow more high performance sports training from April 19th along with a return for senior inter-county GAA teams.  Photograph: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

 

As many as 300 elite athletes hoping to compete in the 2024 Paris Olympics and other major championships will be able to return to training in April, under the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

The Irish Times previously reported how the Olympic Federation of Ireland sought an exemption from the restrictions for these athletes amid concerns at the impact on Ireland’s medal prospect at the games in Paris. 

While preparations are ongoing for this summer’s postponed Olympics in Tokyo, federation chief executive Peter Sherrard feared Ireland’s hopes of victory in 2024 could be damaged. 

The Government decided on Tuesday to allow more high performance sports training from April 19th along with a return for senior inter-county GAA teams. 

This means many younger athletes who won’t compete in Tokyo, but are hoping to go to the following Olympics can ramp up their preparations sports like swimming, cycling, athletics, hockey, basketball, boxing and rowing. 

The athletes are said to include potential medal hopefuls for future Olympics and Paralympics Games.

While not in receipt of State funding, they are considered to be at an international standard and have demonstrated potential to successfully represent Ireland at major events. 

Decision

Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers said the decision follows engagement between his Department, Sport Ireland and the Olympic Federation of Ireland.

He said: “These are high performing athletes who have shown immense promise and ability.

“These athletes have been recognised by their governing bodies and Sport Ireland as having the potential to represent Ireland at the very highest international level. 

“I am really pleased we have been able to expand the regulations to allow these sports stars to resume activities.”

Olympic Federation of Ireland chief executive Peter Sherrard previously wrote to Mr Chambers saying that despite the postponement of the Tokyo games, the development of athletes for Paris was “hugely important” and he sought exemptions for them.

Mr Sherrard told The Irish Times in February that “younger athletes that are potentially tracking towards Paris are suffering and consequently our medal prospects for Paris would be suffering as a result”.