European Cross-Country in Dublin is cancelled due to Covid-19

Event was scheduled to take place at Abbotstown in December

The venue was secured, the hotels booked, the timetable approved and the broadcast rights in place, only Dublin’s hosting of the 2020 European Cross-Country Championships in December has today bowed to the inevitable and been cancelled in the face of Covid-19.

Set for December 13th at the Sport Ireland campus at Abbotstown, and expected to bring in over 600 athletes from around 40 European countries, the continuing restrictions around travel has made final planning for the event become increasingly uncertain.

In a conference call on Tuesday morning, the Fingal-Dublin 2020 local organising committee informed the European Athletics executive board that “due to too many uncertainties and existing sanitary restrictions in Ireland associated to the Covid-19 situation” they have decided to cancel the edition 2020 of the European Cross-Country Championships.

Turin is already signed up to stage the 2021 championships, and it’s unclear at this stage if Dublin may take those championships, or else host the following edition in 2022.

Last December’s event in Lisbon featured 602 athletes – 336 men and 266 women – from 40 countries, with similar numbers expected this December. For several weeks it had remained one of the few international athletics events of that magnitude not yet cancelled or postponed into 2021, most notably all the big city marathons.

"We're well advanced in our overall organisation, the infrastructure, all of that, but we're fully aware of the situation", Liam Hennessy, the former president of Athletics Ireland, who also sits on the European Athletics Covid-19 task force, told The Irish Times last month.

“But there will be some timelines, coming up at some point. And these won’t be the week before. But if there is still a situation around quarantine, say, there isn’t a remote chance of it happening.”

Set for the purpose-built course at Abbotstown, the championships also found themselves clashing with the All-Ireland hurling final, also currently reset for December 13th, again Covid-19 permitting.

Those 2019 championships in Lisbon proved the most fruitful for Irish teams in the event, the striking thing about their four-medal haul was that it might easily have been six.

The day began with a journey completed in style, Efrem Gidey coming from running outsider to winning a bronze medal in his debut in an Irish vest, with Fionnuala McCormack coming home a close fourth in the women's race, before soon finding some consolation in leading the team to silver medals, also Aoibhe Richardson (17th) and Ciara Mageean (20th) giving their absolute best to secure it.

In between Stephanie Cotter also finished third in the women's under-23 race, also leading the Irish team to silver medals in the process, and there were strong hopes for a similar medal haul in Dublin.