It took a bit of time to figure out all the Covid Protocols, especially as we had a team consisting of a mixture of people from inside and outside the EU, but we worked it out in the end. There were some Covid cases following on from the World Championships in Czech Republic earlier in the summer, so the IOF were very careful with EYOC and there were several Covid Bulletins in addition to some Covid officials’ meetings in advance of the event to make sure that everyone understood the Protocols for the event. Effectively, the event was run in a bubble. In addition to the Covid requirements for entering Lithuania (eg EU Vaccination Cert or negative Covid test), everyone entering the bubble (officials included) needed a PCR and Antigen Test in advance. The competitors were housed in 3 hotels on the outskirts of Vilnius. Teams had to eat meals together and avoid mixing too much with the other teams (which was a pity as the social aspect of these events is very important). Masks were required to be worn everywhere, including at the outdoor arenas. Some of the teams had to make last minute changes to competitors due to some positive Covid tests before arrival. There should have been a social event and opening ceremony but these were cancelled due to Covid fears.
We arrived in Lithuania on Tuesday night and were all tested Wednesday morning in our hotel, we then had to restrict our movements while waiting for the results on Wednesday afternoon
The organisation of the event was first class. None of the officials or the M/W 16s had been to an event like this before so we didn’t know what to expect. There were online team official meetings every evening followed by a bulletin with final details for the next day’s race. We then met our team to pass on the information and to discuss logistics for the following day.
David Healy and Josh O’Sullivan-Hourihan were extremely helpful. Before we left Ireland, Josh held a Zoom meeting with the team and both Josh and David helped with some great map preparation work. During the event, they provided advice and support remotely as further details and information became available. Toni O’Donovan also helped with some very useful advice and tips.
The event was broadcast live on Facebook each day and there are hundreds of super photos available to view including some lovely photos of our Irish juniors. Each evening a short summary video with highlights of the day was released (3 or 4 mins approx). These are super and well worth watching to get a feel for this type of event. There was live commentary each day like the kind of thing you’d get at a GAA match here where the commentators knew the names and history (including family) of all of the best competitors. It was all very exciting.
In order that competitors would gain some familiarity with the terrain there were some model events on Wednesday and Thursday before the long event on Friday.