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Irish athletes guaranteed funding despite Olympics postponement

Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy confirmed so this morning.

File photo of Thomas Barr.
File photo of Thomas Barr.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

IRISH ATHLETES COMING to terms with the postponing of the Olympics and Paralympics for the first time have been guaranteed the extension of their state funding to 2021. 

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy confirmed that the two-year carding scheme under which Irish athletes are funded will be extended to the end of next year.

“The carding scheme under which we allocate €2.5 million to our athletes is a two-year scheme, and it is the intention of Sport Ireland to roll that out for a third year. Let’s put it this way: the athletes who are on the carding will stay on the carding until the end of 2021. 

“It will remain, and that’s the right thing to do to support the athletes, we want to make sure [funding] is not a worry for them. The government have invested hugely in terms of this Olympic cycle: there has been €44 million invested across all of the High-Performance systems, and we need to make sure we look after the athletes.” 

The annual carding scheme was adapted last year to guarantee athletes their funding across two years, to offer athletes more certainty in their efforts to qualify for the Olympics. 

The highest bracket of funding is titled Podium, and is worth €40,000 annually.

There are 16 Irish Olympic-eligible being funded to this degree: Thomas Barr, Ciara Mageean, and Brendan Boyce (athletics); gymnast Rhys McGleneghan; boxers Kellie Harrington, Kurt Walker, Michaela Walsh, and Aoife O’Rourke; pentathlon duo Natalya Coyle and Arthur Lanigan O’Keefe; and a sextet of rowers: O’Donovan brothers Gary and Paul along with Sanita Puspure, Ronan Byrne, Philip Doyle and Fintan McCarthy.

 

Paralympic athletes Jason Smyth, Michael McKillop, Niamh McCarthy, Noelle Lenihan, Ellen Keane, and Nicole Turner are also funded under the Podium class. 

While the Games have previously been cancelled in the face of global conflict, they have never before been postponed and rescheduled. The International Olympic Committee have yet to decide on a re-fixed date, but say the Games will not take place any later than 2021. 

While Treacy said the decision to postpone was “inevitable”, he acknowledged athletes’ disappointment at the delay.

“Every athlete is coming off a winter of training where their focus would have been on Tokyo in July, and for athletes, it’s all about peaking on a given day. They would have been working to that day with their coaches, so to have that gone now leaves a big vacuum.” 

Sport Ireland have advised athletes to continue to train so as to retain their fitness, albeit alone and within the government guidelines on social distancing. 

 

 

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Gavin Cooney

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