SPORT IRELAND chairman John Treacy offered further encouragement and optimism to those involved in all varieties of sport here at the weekend.
And the possible return of spectators to watch their heroes in action was also discussed when Treacy was interviewed on RTÉ Radio.
The former long-distance running great was speaking against the backdrop of Irish racing, European soccer and American golf returning behind closed doors in what’s being termed the new normal.
The old normal came back in all its glory, too, when in New Zealand over 40,000 rugby fanatics piled into a full-house Eden Park in Auckland.
There, they saw the locals, the Blues, defeat Jason Holland’s Wellington Hurricanes 30-20 in Super Rugby.
And the much-anticipated return of the English Premier League will only serve to further whet our appetites for live sport’s big comeback here.
Treacy said he was pleased with the pace of the proposed return for sport and revealed that the return of spectators was now an active consideration.
“The GAA clubs are opening up at the end of June and training is going to resume so what you’re actually seeing is that summer camps are coming back as well, so sport is resuming very quickly,” he said.
Educating those involved in the preparation of teams, from under-age to adult, is the first step in a process that’s described as reasonable and logical.
Every club must appoint a Covid-19 officer and it’s the same with every team fielded by the club.
Those attending training must complete a simple questionnaire before being allowed participate. In other words, no form, no training.
Players must arrived togged, use the hand sanitisers before and after the session and then head home immediately. Dressingrooms and clubhouses are out of bounds for the moment.
“I suppose the big issue is stadiums and whether it’s one metre or two metres in terms of social distancing,” Treacy added.
“Sporting bodies would love to see one metre in the stadiums in terms of social distancing because that would make a huge difference in terms of getting spectators into a stadium.
“That really is a major income source, particularly for our three field sports, so they are the kind of issues that will be considered over the next month or so.
“The sounds are good and the figures are good so far in terms of what Ireland has done.
“We follow government advice as we have to and we get on with it. We have a mechanism where we can provide as much information to government to gives us an ear and a ‘yay or nay’ and the protocols are very well developed based on the countries who are a couple of weeks ahead of us.
“It’s a planned, phased basis return to sport and I think we’re in a lot better place than we were a month ago.
“I’m a lot more optimistic now than I was a month ago as well,” he commented.
The issue of allowing spectators attend county championship matches in football and hurling when they get off the ground over the August Bank Holiday weekend, will be close to the top of the agenda locally.
Restricting capacity and organising games for Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Páirc Uí Rinn, as well as Turner’s Cross and Musgrave Park for soccer and rugby respectively, shouldn’t be that much of a problem.
It seems like a matter of cordoning off seats, rows and sections in the stands as well as placing terraces off-limits.
The problems surround country-wide GAA venues, of which there many in all areas of the county. Enforcing social distancing presents obvious problems.