A view of basketball (Image: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson)
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Basketball Ireland have told the Government that its international squads "risk being left behind" due to the continued suspension of play due to Covid-19 restrictions.
In a letter sent to the Department of Sport, the Tánaiste, Taoiseach and TDs, in advance of last Friday's announcement over the easing of level 5 restrictions, Basketball Ireland outlined its case to be given the green light to resume at elite level.
Basketball Ireland CEO Bernard O'Byrne requested that the sport's National League clubs be allowed to resume training at level 3 (or level 3 enhanced), ahead of a January 9 league restart.
He also requested that international squads be allowed to resume training in "strict" pods this month, ahead of the FIBA European Championship for Small Countries, which is still scheduled for Limerick next summer.
"Our National League and international squads need to return to training and playing, jobs are on the line," O'Byrne wrote to Minister for Sport Catherine Martin.
"Our international squads risk being left behind by their international peers with European Championships due next summer."
However, that request has fallen on deaf ears, with the government only allowing individual training indoors, with non-contact training in pods of up to 15 permitted outdoors.
Basketball Ireland has suffered its own financial issues
It subsequently forced the hand of Basketball Ireland's Men's National Competitions Committee (MNCC). On Saturday they made the call to shelve plans for the Men's Super League and Division One to return in the new year.
A decision from the Women's National League Committee (WNLC) is expected later this week.
O'Byrne emphasised in the letter that Basketball Ireland had "led from the front" in dealing with the pandemic by stopping the League last spring and investing a lot of time, money and effort to put the necessary safety measures in place.
"We are one of the few sports to have appointed, two months ago, an independent Medical Advisory Group," O'Byrne wrote.
"We are totally committed to a safe return of our sport and will take whatever steps asked of us to get our players onto the court again."
Basketball Ireland pledged to construct a "sport-specific testing regime" such as weekly testing of teams and support staff under the control of its Medical Advisory Group and using a paramedical service, the Code Blue company, already in use at all major basketball events.
O'Byrne also confirmed the proposal to use central venues to reduce travel requirements for teams, with venues on stand-by including the National Basketball Arena in Dublin, the Neptune Stadium, Cork, and the Kingfisher Arena, NUIG Galway.
Basketball Ireland also requested that local league teams be allowed to return to pod training at level 3, with normal training and games resuming at level 2.