mass gatherings

Harris warns that major sporting events are unlikely for the rest of 2020

This year’s GAA championships and rugby fixtures are now in severe doubt.

HEALTH MINISTER SIMON Harris has warned that it is unlikely major sporting events will take place in Ireland in 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Harris’ words throw this year’s GAA championships – as well as rugby, soccer, and all other sporting events in the country – into severe doubt.

With a widespread expectation that it will be 2021 before a vaccine for Covid-19 is ready, the mass gatherings usually involved in big sporting fixtures are viewed as a threat.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Independent, Harris praised the GAA’s measures in postponing its championships but also underlined his belief that high-profile sporting events involving mass gatherings are unlikely to happen this year.

fans-at-the-game James Crombie / INPHO Fans at Croke Park for the Dublin v Kerry game last year. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“I think some of the decisions taken by the GAA seem very sensible,” Harris told the Sunday Independent.

“It’s highly unlikely we’re going to be seeing very large kind of mass gatherings this year.

“Could you get to a point where you can’t have massive GAA matches, but you could have local kids having a kickabout safely, that’s the sort of space that we’re in, that we need to work our way through.”

“What’s not going to come back quickly are scenarios in which we can’t safely socially distance,” added Harris.

While the Premier League in the UK continues to discuss possible scenarios for returning to play – potentially behind closed doors – Harris’ statement leaves top-level Irish sport in major doubt for 2020.

The GAA and Irish professional rugby, for example, are highly dependent on the revenue generated by supporters paying into games, with the TV deals in those sports nowhere near the levels of the Premier League in the UK. 

The GAA has already announced that it is facing losses of up to €60 million due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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