THE GAA President John Horan says that he does not expect competition action to resume wile social distancing remains a priority.
Horan was speaking on The Sunday Game last night and outlined how the risk of infection were too great.
Horan cast doubt on the Association’s ability to conclude the 2020 Allianz Leagues, but indicated that the 2020 Championships could yet be played.
As things stand currently, there will be no activity in GAA grounds before July 20 – a date that could change depending on the public health picture.
The GAA president said that the approach was based on the Association’s determination to avoid any of its facilities developing into clusters.
Asked by Des Cahill about the potential return of games while social distancing is present, Horan said: “I can’t see it happening to be quite honest. If social distancing is a priority to deal with this pandemic, I don’t know how we can play a contact sport. That is what Gaelic games is. It is a contact sport.
“When you look at the level of contact in sports, scrums in rugby are probably at a different level. But I don’t think to say our games are non-contact is correct, no.”
Horan – who noted that the GAA faces a €50 million hit to its coffers – reiterated opposition to playing hames behind closed doors.
He said: “I have a bit of an issue with the closed doors concept. If it is safe enough for the players to be in close contact on the pitch, then it is going to be safe enough to have a certain number of people in the ground gathering,” he said.
“I don’t think behind closed doors is going to happen to be honest with you. I think if there is games to be on the pitch of contact sport, there is going to be a certain acceptance there will be crowds in the stadium. I think is where it is going to rest.”
Club Championships will be the priority whenever the green light is given. Teams up to minor level will play a League format rather than Championship.
He said: “The key thing is contact sport. Our concern has to be the players on the pitch and their families and work colleagues. They are all amateurs and it is a hobby to them. I know they take it very seriously at inter-county level and they have a very serious approach to it.
“But we can’t risk anybody’s health. When this is all over and we are all back to normal life, I would hate to think as an organisation that we would have made a decision that cost any family a member of their family.
“We are holding those July and October dates out but if we can’t realise those dates, then we will have to make more serious decisions and push it out more. If we push it out more it may mean we’ll have to call off club or inter-county championships and maybe then we’ll have to call off both.
“I think this year’s Championship would have to start in 2020 and go into the first two months of 2021.
“After that, if we’re back in action, we would have to move on and get on with the 2021 competitions. At this stage I would be inclined to say we will struggle to finish the league.”