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Dublin: 8 °C Friday 10 July, 2020

Greyhound racing to resume without spectators from Monday

The government today announced the next phase in the lifting of lockdown restrictions, with groups of up to 15 people allowed to return to outdoor, non-contact training.

A general view of Shelbourne Park.
A general view of Shelbourne Park.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

GREYHOUND RACING WILL resume behind closed doors from Monday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has confirmed. 

The government today announced the next phase of the lifting of coronavirus restrictions – Phase Two – will go ahead as planned from Monday. Phase Two will accelerate the lifting of some restrictions, with Leo Varadkar calling next week’s stage “Phase Two Plus.”

In a press conference following a cabinet meeting this afternoon, Varadkar confirmed that greyhound racing and horse racing will resume behind closed doors from Monday.

The Irish Greyhound Board welcomed the decision, and confirmed they have arranged a schedule of  trials to commence on Monday 8 June at all 14 greyhound tracks, with the intention of returning to racing behind closed doors early in the week commencing a week later, on 15 June. A detailed race schedule will be published in the coming days. 

Furthermore, from Monday, groups of up to 15 people, including trainers and coaches, may return to non-contact outdoor training activity (but not matches) while maintaining social distancing at all times.

The governnment will also permit high-performance athletes and their support staff to resume training at specific locations. 

Ireland’s Olympic-eligible athletes funded under the International Carding Scheme will be allowed to train at the Sport Ireland Campus at Blanchardstown, Morton Stadium, Santry, the Irish Sailing High-Performance HQ, Dun Laoghaire, the National Rowing Centre in Cork and at the Golf Union of Ireland Academy at Carton House. 

Connacht, Leinster, and Munster Rugby players will be allowed to return to training at their respective training bases, as will the players at the four League of Ireland clubs preparing for European competition: Dundalk F.C, Derry City F.C, Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers.

These athletes will be permitted to travel to their training bases even if they are located beyond the 20km travel restrictions.

“I am pleased that we have been able to facilitate a return to training activity for these high performance athletes and teams, especially for the members of Team Ireland”, said Sports Minister Shane Ross.

“2020 was to be the pinnacle of their sporting career, but instead they have endured huge disappointment and massive uncertainty. These past weeks have been particularly challenging for everybody concerned. Athletes have sought to maintain their fitness and focus while training at home but that is no substitute for the benefit of using the special training facilities available in dedicated training centres. I am delighted that we can now match the practice elsewhere in Europe and permit athletes to return to training at their national training centre.”

Although the final phase of the easing of restrictions has today been brought forward to 20 July, Varadkar said the ban on mass gatherings may remain “well into the Autumn.” 

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Gavin Cooney

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