A 'Return to Sport Expert Group' has been established by the government to provide guidance to Ireland's sporting bodies to prepare for the phased return to sporting activity in line with the Government Roadmap for Reopening Business and Society. 

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross and the Minister of State with responsibility for Sport, Brendan Griffin, will chair the Expert Group.

They will work alongside medical experts from the Sport Ireland Institute and the sports sector, as well as officials from both the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and Sport Ireland. The Group also contains a specific representation for disability sport.

Minister 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.  

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"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 the 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. The work of this group will provide a clear pathway for sport based on expert opinion and within the parameters outlined in the Government’s Roadmap for the Reopening of Society and Business. 

"We would like to acknowledge the professional and diligent manner in which the sports sector has reacted and adapted to the ongoing situation. A lot of work is being put in behind the scenes to ensure that sport can resume as quickly and as safely as possible."