Dublin businesses alone stand to lose €106m this summer after Uefa announced the postponement of the Euro 2020 tournament until next summer.
The tournament was due to kick off on June 12 and Dublin would have hosted four games on June 15, 19, 24 and 30 in what Dublin City Council (DCC) billed as "the largest sporting event ever to come to these shores".
Following a crisis meeting yesterday, officials from Uefa announced the four play-off matches will now be played in early June 2020 on dates previously earmarked for friendly games ahead of the tournament, "if Covid-19 conditions permit".
The tournament will still go ahead as planned in the 12 host cities in Europe between June 11 and July 11, 2021. Tickets for the postponed games will still be honoured but fans who are unwilling or unable to attend will be offered refunds, Uefa confirmed.
The unprecedented move was due to the need to protect the public and players from the escalating coronavirus threat. Up to 100,000 fans from abroad were due to descend on the capital.
DCC had earmarked close to €3m to set up official fan zones and a football village at Dublin Castle and Merrion Square Park. Up to 5,000 people were expected to throng the football village while up to 10,000 people at a time were expected to watch the matches on giant screens.
Officials from the city council could not be reached yesterday to determine if those plans will still go ahead next year.
However, the Irish Tourism Industry Federation (ITIF), representing 20,000 businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors, said the postponement would come as a massive blow to such businesses already fearful of being decimated by the coronavirus outbreak.
At least €106m that was expected to be generated in spin-off revenue in Dublin will be taken out of the economy this summer, according to the Dublin Chamber of Commerce.
The fall-out will affect other related industries, such as the already hard-hit airline industry, ferry companies, tour operators and even television advertisers, according to ITIF chief executive Eoghan O'Mara Walsh.
"The whole coronavirus thing is huge in impact and this is a further hammer blow. Even if the virus passes, the industry will be very, very vulnerable."
The federation, whose members collectively employ around 265,000 people in an industry worth €9.2bn a year, was bracing itself for a very difficult year ahead, he said.
Dublin Chamber said that while the postponement of the tournament this summer would "hit businesses hard", spokesman Graeme McQueen said it was confident they will be able to weather the storm.
"Given everything that's going on in such uncertain times, the good thing is it's still coming a year later.
"It's clarity early enough and it's a good thing as it gives businesses a time to plan. We're confident the business community will recover," he said.
UEFA have confirmed their plans to postpone the Euro 2020 finals for 12 months and also hold the playoffs for the tournament, including the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, in June.