Irish women’s wait for Olympic debut pushed back to 2021

The Irish women’s wait to play in the Olympic Games for the first time has been put on hold for a year following the decision by the IOC and Tokyo to postpone the event until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Reacting to the news, coach Sean Dancer said: “We really appreciate the tough decisions all parties involved have had to make in recent weeks. The decision to postpone the Games not only puts athlete’s welfare first, but also the welfare of much wider communities and countries.

“These are unprecedented times, and while incredibly stressful for so many, the decision to postpone the Games is one we support.

“Our athletes are continuing to train as much as possible given the current circumstances, and we really look forward to being able to train together as a group again when it is appropriate to do so.”

Captain Katie Mullan added it is a decision which is the right one but also a tough one to deal with as the Olympic dream is put on hold.

“As players, we are gutted with the announcement to postpone the games as our excitement has been building. However we totally understand why this decision has been made. What matters most is players health and wellbeing, as well as our families and friends, and we hope everyone is staying safe and healthy at this difficult time.

“As a team, it has been strange doing so much individual training, but everyone has been pushing on with home-gym programmes and trying to increase their fitness with running and cycling.

“This is a big change for so many people, but everyone is the same situation. We’ll be doing our best to use this as an opportunity.”

High Performance Director Adam Grainger, meanwhile, said: “Hockey Ireland support the IOC and TOCOG (Tokyo Organising Committee for the Olympic Games) in this decision and can appreciate how hard the postponement decision would have been to make.

“Hockey Ireland also understands how difficult this postponement must have been for the Japanese people, with our local hosts Iwate town for example having already invested so much time and effort into successfully hosting Hockey Ireland.  

“Our senior women’s team are committed to travelling to Iwate town in 2021 and working with the OFI, Sport Ireland, Sport NI and our sponsors to ensure the best preparation possible for our players and staff.”

In addition to the postponement of the Olympic Games, the summer international schedule is also looking sparse.

Lisnagarvey’s hosting of the men’s EuroHockey Club Challenge I in May was called off by the EHF today.

At Masters level, the Home Nations for men’s Over-35s, 45s and 55s scheduled for June in Swansea and the Celtic Cup for men’s Over-60s and 65s in Glasgow in August are cancelled.

This follows the men’s Over-40s and 50s Home Nations in May in Edinburgh and the Over-60s, 65s and 70s in Southgate as well as the ISVT tournament in Tilburg in April which has already been pulled.

The WMH World Cup in Nottingham in August remains on the agenda for the time being.

At underage level, a decision will be made on whether European Hockey Federation’s summer competitions at Under-18 and 21 level will go ahead will be made after April 7.

The host for the U-18 boys and girls Championships, Kazan, Russia, has had to withdraw from hosting due to a Government directive.

If the tournament is possible to go ahead, an alternative host will be sought.

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