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Sport Ireland vows to maintain athletes' funding despite Tokyo postponement


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Running to stand still: ‘You’re either going to waste this time now or you’re going to use it and come out the other end better,’ says Irish sprinter Phil Healy from her training base near Curracloe in Wexford, after it was confirmed that the 2020 Olympics are to be postponed until next year. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Running to stand still: ‘You’re either going to waste this time now or you’re going to use it and come out the other end better,’ says Irish sprinter Phil Healy from her training base near Curracloe in Wexford, after it was confirmed that the 2020 Olympics are to be postponed until next year. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Running to stand still: ‘You’re either going to waste this time now or you’re going to use it and come out the other end better,’ says Irish sprinter Phil Healy from her training base near Curracloe in Wexford, after it was confirmed that the 2020 Olympics are to be postponed until next year. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Sport Ireland will maintain the same level of funding for Irish athletes through 2020 in the wake of the postponement of the Olympic Games, with a spokesman confirming it has written to athletes to reassure them there will be no reductions this year.

In January, Sport Ireland announced €9.4 million in funding for high-performance programmes across 21 sports, with an additional €2.4m for the carding scheme, which directly funds 116 individual athletes in Olympic sports.

While much of that has yet to be paid to athletes and national governing bodies, Sport Ireland intends to do so in full despite the current crisis.

"Everything will be a complete commitment to the athletes who qualified (for Tokyo) and for those on the verge, everything will be kept in place," said the spokesman.

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Peter Sherrard, CEO of the Olympic Federation of Ireland.

Peter Sherrard, CEO of the Olympic Federation of Ireland.

SPORTSFILE

Peter Sherrard, CEO of the Olympic Federation of Ireland.

Peter Sherrard, CEO of the Olympic Federation of Ireland, said it was "the right call" to postpone the Olympics, while Tricia Heberle, Team Ireland chef de mission, said it was "totally appropriate".

With the Games delayed until 2021, fears grew among athletes about reductions in funding, particularly as national governing bodies face the financial burden of the coronavirus. But while funding will remain unchanged for 2020, it's too early to say if athletes will receive the same support next year.

"No one knows that yet, including Sport Ireland," said Paul McNamara, Athletics Ireland's high performance director. "The assumption that it rolls over to 2021 is unlikely. One would assume funding (applications) would open for 2021 separately."

Irish Independent