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Government ‘optimistic’ stadiums will return to full capacity from 22 October

Remaining Covid-19 restrictions are set to be lifted at the end of the month.

The Aviva Stadium.
The Aviva Stadium.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

THE GOVERNMENT IS optimistic that stadiums in Ireland will return to 100% capacity from 22 October, when all remaining Covid-19 restrictions are expected to be lifted.

The Minister of State for Sport, Jack Chambers, says a final decision on the full reopening of stadiums is expected early next week.

“I’d be hopeful and optimistic that we’ll see a full return of spectators in the aftermath of 22 October,” Chambers said.

“We’ve had a huge successful return to spectators now from a very small number earlier on this year to a very successful return over the summer months. I think we want to see the safe returning of spectators and it’s happening across the water in the UK, it’s happening across Europe as well.”

There are a number of major sporting fixtures due to take place next month, with the Irish football team hosting Portugal in a World Cup qualifier fixture on 11 November, while the Irish rugby team have three home fixtures in the diary, including the highly-anticipated visit of the All Blacks on 13 November.

“I think in the multiplicity of the pilot events that we’ve had, it happened in a really safe way and I think we continue to build the confidence in that, particularly with the vaccination data that we have.

“Ireland are playing Portugal in November. We’ve obviously got rugby internationals too, so that in line with all other range fixtures across the domestic system, I’d like to see that and I think we can be hopeful and optimistic that it will happen.”

Chambers was also asked if Ireland should be proceeding with a bid to host the 2030 World Cup, with a feasibility study currently examining the prospect of a joint-bid from Ireland and the UK.

“As you know, if we’re bidding for the World Cup, as part of the bidding process for the World Cup, we’d be with the UK as well. So it’d be the proliferation of stadia both here and in the UK,” Chambers said.

“We have some some excellent stadia at the moment in this country, which have had the capital investment over recent years.

“I think we’re planning a long time out, obviously it’s 2030. There’s ongoing engagement between the two governments and the football associations as well. Structures being established there to to assess the bidding process.

“Major events bring a huge amount of economic benefits to the state but also lift our people, if you look at even the Ryder Cup coming in 2027.

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“The major events unit that we have in our department are always open to thinking big about the major events that can come to our shores, and this is one of the biggest globally.

“I think our infrastructure would handle any such event and we’re ambitious to see the current process progress with the UK and with the football associations.” 

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Ciarán Kennedy

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