Irish athletes who hope to complete at the Olympics deserve equal treatment - Chris Andrews TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Sport Chris Andrews TD has raised concerns for Ireland's Olympic hopes at Tokyo 2021, saying that elite Irish athletes who have committed many years to representing Ireland at the Olympics must be treated as equals and be allowed to complete the necessary steps for Olympic qualification.
Teachta Andrews said:
"There are more than sixty recognised national sports governing bodies under the umbrella of Sport Ireland, all of which represent elite athletes.
"Many of these athletes have contacted me to express their concern that they cannot compete at elite competitions, which is a vital route for so many of them to achieve a place at the upcoming Olympics.
"With the Olympic Games now only months away and with many of those hoping to compete not able to participate at elite level competitions, this will undoubtedly impact on their preparations for Tokyo 2021.
"We now have a situation where instead of allowing our athletes compete in state of art facilities - with the highest level of Covid-19 safeguards - many are now looking to travel outside of Ireland to take part in competitions in places such as Poland and Spain.
"Basketball, tennis, athletics, hockey and other sports feel they are being treated unfairly.
"The question of what sports can hold events should not come down to who is the best at lobbying. It should be determined by health-based evidence and there is a real sense among some that different sports are getting preferential treatment.
"The Olympian, Rob Heffernan, recently highlighted the case of four athletes that the government does not consider to be elite enough to compete in the world-class facilities we have in this country despite the fact they will be representing Ireland at the Olympics.
"Athletics competitions, for example, can be conducted outdoors and are non-contact, yet they are not allowed to go ahead at an elite level.
"All sports must be treated equally and these elite athletes need to be shown the respect they deserve."