Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers told Virgin Media that requiring vaccinations for entry to stadiums would mean “excluding children” and therefore won’t be pursued as a policy.
Appearing on The Tonight Show, Chambers said that “some spectators” might return to stadiums this summer in “a planned way and a cautious way”, but that proof of vaccination is not likely to be required.
He would not be drawn on a specific date however, telling viewers that while there was a plan in place, no timeframe had been decided.
“We can’t put a definitive date on that now but there’s nothing more I’d want to do as someone who lives in Dublin than to go and see a Dubs game,” Chambers said.
“The All-Ireland is of such importance across GAA, ladies football and camogie. It’s great that we’re able to have an All-Ireland series this summer and, hopefully, with the vaccination effect, the one difference this year compared to last year is that we will see some spectators back.”
The news comes less than a month after GAA president Larry McCarthy indicated the organization’s willingness to introduce vaccine passports at grounds around the country.
“I don’t know have we got a vaccination passport — if that is something that has been created”, McCarthy told Red FM.
“I’ve seen something along those lines in the travel business. But how do you identify whether somebody has been vaccinated or not? It would probably be difficult to implement.
“But if we’re allowed do it, we’ll do it. We’ll find a way.”
The organization suffered a €34 million deficit last year, as other sporting bodies around the world try to find ways to re-open the significant revenue stream of ticket sales.
“Empty stadiums, empty Páirc Uí Chaoimhs, empty Croke Parks, empty Limericks — it’s not what we’re about,” McCarthy said.
“Even if you do pipe in the noise, it still doesn’t make it.
“The whole camaraderie of going…half the enjoyment of going to matches is the camaraderie and the socialisation around it.
“I’m not underestimating what happens out on the field but it’s the buzz of being in a large crowd at events and we clearly all miss that.”