Expert panel set up to help Irish sports prepare for return

Department of Sport will chair the expert group that will assess return-to-play protocols

Gerard Morgan, golf course superintendent, preparing the course at Howth Golf Club for the return to play on Monday. Photo: Paul Faith/AFP via Getty Images

An expert group has been established to offer guidance to sporting bodies in Ireland preparing for a return to action.

The panel will assess return-to-play protocols being drawn up by the various sporting national governing bodies with the aim of achieving a consistent approach.

Golf and tennis will be permitted again when phase one of Ireland’s lockdown exit plan begins on Monday.

Other sports will return in future phases, with those involving most physical contact, like rugby and wrestling, waiting until the fifth and final phase of the blueprint.


The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport will chair the expert group.

It will include medical experts from the Sport Ireland Institute and the sports sector, as well as officials from Sport Ireland.

Representatives from the disability sport sector will also participate.

Sports minister Shane Ross said: “Like every sector in society, those involved in Irish sport at all levels have been hugely affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

“They are understandably most anxious to return to normal business as soon as possible, both those involved at a high performance level and those eager to return to playing and participating in the sports they love within their communities.

“Unfortunately that is simply not possible in current circumstances.

“Small and very measured steps must be introduced slowly, which is what the roadmap sets out to do through the various phases.

“But the good news is that some low-risk sporting activity can start up again next Monday in accordance with the public health advice.

“The sports organisations are putting detailed protocols in place and the expert group that we are establishing today will be assessing the consistency of these arrangements with the roadmap and current public health advice.

“In my view, it is essential that the public can have confidence in how sport is being restored in Ireland and I believe that this initiative is an important confidence-building measure.”

Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy said: “Sport will play an important role as the country looks to emerge from the current crisis and the establishment of the expert group to guide national governing bodies through the process of reintroducing sport is a welcome step.

“Through Sport Ireland’s extensive consultation with the sports sector, there is a clear appetite for the reintroduction of sport at all levels and an appreciation that this must be done in a controlled and safe manner.”