Wednesday, 18 November 2020
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
69. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if Portmarnock swimming pool and swimming pools in general will be allowed to operate at set times to allow elite swimmers preparing for future Olympic and European competitions to train given that elite athletes such as elite swimmers are allowed to train and to operate under level 5 restrictions but cannot do so without access to swimming pools [37250/20]
As the country is currently in Level 5 restrictions, it is not permitted for gyms, swimming pools or leisure centres to open to the general public. The public health regulations provide for an exemption for certain categories of professional and high performance athletes and teams, including athletes in the Swim Ireland high performance programme funded by Sport Ireland. Sports facilities and training centres that would previously have provided services to elite, professional sports are permitted to remain open to facilitate ongoing training for exempted categories of sport only. This is to ensure that professional teams can continue to compete including in international competition. It is also to facilitate our high performance athletes and teams in their preparations for the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in Tokyo next year.
When opening for elite or professional athletes, facilities must adhere to comprehensive protocols, which ensure that the required levels of control and compliance are in place. These protocols are informed by guidance from the Expert Group on Return to Sport to ensure that there is full adherence with best practice guidance from Irish health authorities, as well as international sources such as the WHO and ECDC. As the national high performance training centre, facilities at the Sport Ireland Campus in Blanchardstown will remain accessible for elite athletes only.