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Ayeisha McFerran: I fear 2021 Olympics could become another Covid casualty

 

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Ayeisha McFerran

Ayeisha McFerran

�INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Ayeisha McFerran

Ayeisha McFerran has become one of the first Irish athletes to articulate concerns that next year's Olympic Games could fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ireland goalkeeper, who plays her hockey as a professional with leading Dutch side KV Kampong, fears that if a vaccine cannot be found in the next 12 months, the dream ticket to Tokyo would likely be shattered.

McFerran's shoot-out heroics in the qualifying win over Canada in Dublin last November secured Ireland their Olympic debut.

Now though, the 24-year-old Larne woman admits the prospect of a cancellation has crossed her mind after the trip to Tokyo was moved back from its original slot this summer.

"There is definitely a bit of a fear but you have to look at the bigger picture and it's more important for Ireland and its people to be healthy than to have an Olympic Games," she said.

"Closer to the time, and given more information from the World Health Organisation, until that happens, I don't think I will have it at the forefront of my mind although later on it might be something we have to address."

However, McFerran's immediate focus is on a return to training after the Dutch season was halted due to the pandemic.

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While McFerran is back on the pitch, the rest of her international team-mates have yet to experience such a treat after eight weeks in lockdown.

Hockey Ireland confirmed yesterday that no other Ireland players - male or female - are back in training as the governing body has yet to issue its return-to-sport guidelines.

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