Sport Ireland planning ahead despite Olympics uncertainty

State of emergency in Tokyo has raised concerns among officials ahead of the Games

A view of the New National Stadium, the main stadium for the Tokyo Olympics. The Japanese government is expected to impose a third state of emergency in Tokyo soon amid an increase in cases of Covid-19. Photo: Getty Images

A view of the New National Stadium, the main stadium for the Tokyo Olympics. The Japanese government is expected to impose a third state of emergency in Tokyo soon amid an increase in cases of Covid-19. Photo: Getty Images

 

In announcing a core sporting package of €40 million, much of which is wrapped around a Tokyo Olympics which still may not even happen, John Treacy was sure of at least one thing: there is no way or even point in planning for sporting unknowns until they actually happen.

That’s effectively what happened last year with similar core funding for 2020 being guaranteed again for 2021 only when it became known that the Tokyo Olympics weren’t going to happen last summer, along with a host of other major sporting events. Until Sport Ireland hears otherwise, they only way they can plan to Tokyo is as if the Games are going ahead - as in 90 days from Friday.

“The IOC are the people making those decisions, along with the Tokyo committees, and they’re saying the Games are still going ahead,” said Treacy, CEO of Sport Ireland. “We’re not taking our eye off the ball, proceeding as if they are going ahead, that’s our focus and the focus of every athlete.

“Obviously we’re looking today, and this week, at the Covid numbers in Tokyo, in terms of positive cases, but every athlete has to be resilient, stay focused on July, and that’s what we’re doing too.”

Still there’s no denying the concern, especially with Japan poised to declare a state of emergency in Tokyo and two other regions amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

Domestic media has said the government is considering tougher measures for Tokyo, Osaka prefecture and neighbouring Hyogo prefecture, as experts warned that mutant strains of the virus were driving new outbreaks that are straining health services.

“Of course it is (a concern),” said Treacy, “and I just feel for the athletes, doing their best to prepare in these difficult times, because there is still a lot of uncertainty out there. But you have to keep your focus, on the days you’re going to compete, and athletes are very resilient. Everything we’ve tried to do around this year, making the Institute available all the time, is about providing the environment so that athletes can continue to the best of their ability.

“My message would be to continue to work and train hard, stay focused. We’re following the IOC direction, and that’s where the focus has to be. Athletes can’t think of anything else, and that’s the bottom line for the time being.”

The €40m package includes €13.8 million for core activity of 59 National Governing Bodies (NGB’s), €8,500,000 to support High Performance programmes, and €2.68 million in International Carding scheme - all effectively unchanged from their 2020 allocation, as was agreed by Sport Ireland once Covid-19 first drove the country into lockdown in March of last year.

“If you look at last year, what the Government did last summer was make €70m available, as a resilience fund, and there was a further €15m on top of that to run the All-Ireland in football and hurling, plus camogie and ladies football, which was all very important,” added Treacy.

“What the Government was also saying was they don’t want anyone dismantling, they want a system that’s ready to hit the ground when things open up again, and Covid is dealt with, and we’ve been in a position to make that happen, there isn’t huge redundancies, and we’re able to keep the organisations running.”

However funding of €5.8 million for the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) to support coaching and games development is on hold pending approval by the board of Sport Ireland.

The annual investment in the three in the three large field sports - IRFU, GAA and FAI - has €2,389,653 allocated to the GAA and €2,250,843 to the IRFU, which supports “vital coaching, games development and technical development programmes”.

“That €5.8 million was a commitment made by the Government to the FAI to meet their needs over the next three years,” explained Treacy. “That will go to the board in May, so it was a timing issue, nothing more than a timing issue.

“Obviously we are working very closely with the FAI in terms of meeting the conditions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), and they’ve made very good progress on that, just to say that, a lot of dialogue going on with the FAI around a lot of that. They’re having their AGM at the end of May to finalise that process, so it’s mainly a timing issue at this particular point in time.”

The €9.5 million to support the work of 29 Local Sports Partnerships is up 15 per cent on 2020 funding and this increase in investment provides an opportunity for Sport Ireland to support a locally-led safe return to sport and to further build the capacity of LSPs, increasing their reach and impact across Ireland.

Sport Ireland will provide further support in 2021 to address the immediate and confirmed costs to high performance programmes in respect of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. That investment in high performance sport also includes funding of €2.68 million through the International Carding Scheme, also essentially unchanged from 2020, as was agreed shortly after the shut-own of elite sport due to Covid-19, which provides financial support to 130 athletes and six Tokyo-targeted relays/squads across 16 sports.

National Governing Body 2020/2021 allocation

Special Olympics Ireland €1,400,000/€1,400,000

Athletics Ireland €1,000,000/€1,000,000

Swim Ireland €950,000/€950,000

Horse Sport Ireland €930,000/€930,000

Basketball Ireland €740,000/€740,000

Irish Athletic Boxing Association €500,000/€500,000

Ladies Gaelic Football Association €485,000/€485,000

Cricket Ireland €480,000/€480,000

Tennis Ireland €450,000/€450,000

The Camogie Association €435,000/€435,000

Cycling Ireland €420,000/€420,000

Irish Sailing Association €410,000/€410,000

Badminton Ireland €390,000/€390,000

Hockey Ireland €340,000/€340,000

Gymnastics Ireland €340,000/€340,000

Rowing Ireland €320,000/€320,000

Golf Ireland €320,000/€320,000

Irish Wheelchair Association Sport €285,000/€285,000

Canoeing Ireland €275,000/€275,000

National Community Games €315,000/€260,000

Mountaineering Ireland €235,000/€235,000

Triathlon Ireland €225,000/€225,000

Volleyball Ireland €210,000/€210,000

Irish Squash €200,000/€200,000

Motor Sport Ireland €180,000/€180,000

Table Tennis Ireland €115,000/€115,000

GAA Handball Ireland €105,000/€105,000

Irish Judo Association €100,000/€100,000

Irish Surfing Association €80,000/€80,000

Pitch and Putt Ireland €80,000/€80,000

Snooker & Billiards Ireland €75,000/€75,000

Diving Ireland €75,000/€75,000

Deaf Sports Ireland €65,000/€65,000

Irish Orienteering Association €65,000/€65,000

Irish Martial Arts Commission €60,000/€60,000

Fencing Ireland €55,000/€55,000

Motor Cycling Ireland €48,000/€48,000

Irish Clay Target Shooting Association €48,000/€48,000

Vision Sports Ireland €48,000/€48,000

Irish Olympic Handball Association €48,000/€48,000

Tug of War Ireland €40,000/€40,000

Irish Tenpin Bowling Association €37,000/€37,000

Bowling League of Ireland €32,000/€32,000

American Football Ireland €32,000/€32,000

Weightlifting Ireland €32,000/€32,000

Bol Chumann na hÉireann €32,000/€32,000

Irish Waterski & Wakeboard Federation €27,000/€27,000

Irish Taekwondo Union €25,000/€25,000

Baton Twirling Sport Association of Ireland €25,000/€25,000

Racquetball Association of Ireland €25,000/€25,000

Irish Amateur Wrestling Association €25,000/€25,000

Rugby League Ireland €20,000/€20,000

Speleological Union of Ireland €20,000/€20,000

Angling Council of Ireland €20,000/€20,000

Archery Ireland - /€15,000

Croquet Association of Ireland €10,000/€10,000

Irish Ice Hockey Association €10,000/€10,000

ONAKAI €10,000/€10,000

Special Projects and Programmes 501,000/541,000

Pentathlon Ireland €20,000/€20,000

Total 13,845,000/13,845,000

Field sports funding 2021

GAA €2,389,653

IRFU €2,250,843

FAI €5,800,000*

High Performance Programme funding 2020/2021

Athletics Ireland €840,000/€840,000

Irish Sailing Association €800,000/€800,000

Irish Athletic Boxing Association €770,000/€770,000

Hockey Ireland €730,000/€730,000

Paralympics Ireland €700,000/€700,000

Horse Sport Ireland €690,000/€690,000

Swim Ireland €630,000/€630,000

Rowing Ireland €620,000/€620,000

Confederation of Golf €450,000/€450,000

Cycling Ireland €440,000/€440,000

Irish Rugby Football Union €300,000/€300,000

Pentathlon Ireland €290,000/€290,000

Triathlon Ireland €250,000/€250,000

Gymnastics Ireland €230,000/€230,000

Tennis Ireland €200,000/€200,000

Cricket Ireland €200,000/€200,000

Badminton Ireland €160,000/€160,000

Irish Judo Association €70,000/€70,000

Canoeing Ireland €50,000/€50,000

Irish Taekwondo Union €50,000/€50,000

Irish Clay Target Shooting €30,000/€30,000

Total €8,500,000/€8,500,000

High Performance Operations and Administration funding

Olympic Federation of Ireland €420,000

Paralympics Ireland €400,000

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