Athletics Ireland withdraw from European Team Championships

Ireland’s withdrawal will now likely result in their automatic relegation to lowest level

Athletics Ireland has made the surprisingly late decision to withdraw all men's and women's teams from the European Athletics Team Championships First League, which is set to take place in Cluj-Napoca, in Romania on the weekend after next, June 19th-20th.

The second-tier of Europe's foremost team competitions was to feature 13 nations, including hosts Romania, with the top two teams gaining promotion to the Superleague, while the bottom three teams will get relegated to the European Athletics Team Championships Second League in 2023.

Ireland’s withdrawal will now likely result in their automatic relegation, despite the strong efforts being made to retain that First League status in recent years.

In a statement, Athletics Ireland said: “Following considerable discussion of the ongoing challenges of Covid-19 and international travel for high performance athletes, Athletics Ireland have confirmed that an Irish team will not be competing at the European Team Championships on the 19th/20th of June in Romania.


“The national track and field championships scheduled for June 25th, 26th, and 27th would result in many athletes not being available to travel to the team championships. Possible quarantines could result in athletes missing their national championships which will offer the chance to earn valuable ranking points towards Olympic qualification.”

Although Irish athletes have been granted elite status during Covid-19, similar to professional sports, Athletics Ireland added: "The Irish Government requires a mandatory five-day quarantine followed by a negative PCR test for anyone entering Ireland after travel off the island of Ireland. This quarantine effectively rules out the vast majority of athletes travelling to Romania with National Championships commencing on Friday 25th June.

“Aside from the requirement for quarantine for a minimum of five days post travel, there is a strong risk of athletes being deemed a close contact during travel to or from this event, which would require a minimum of 10 days quarantine.

Ireland were set to compete in the biennial event against Belgium, Belarus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Switzerland, Sweden and Turkey. The relegation means they will now be competing in the lowest level, The Second League in 2023, which will be held in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics