Sports participation in Ireland has greatly increased in the years following the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Irish Sport Monitor 2023 Report.

The report, a long-established survey providing an ongoing measurement of sports participation in Ireland, stated that regular participation levels have jumped from a low of 40% at the peak of the pandemic in 2021 to 47% in 2023. 

Meanwhile, the gap in participation rates between men and women now stands below 3%, the narrowest it has ever been. 

This is largely due to women's participation levels rising by 6% between 2022 and 2023, with 46% of adult women now regularly participating in sports. A total of 49% of men participate in sports on a weekly basis, the report found. 

The report further found that the difference in sports participation between socio-economic groups also reached its narrowest level since the pandemic. Although this difference is still significant at 19%, it is much lower than the 34% difference measured in 2017. 

Elsewhere, sports participation levels increased in 2023 among both younger and older age groups, with 64% (up from 60% in 2022) of those aged under 35 and 40% (from 35% in 2022) of those aged 35 and over playing sport regularly. 

Social participation figures in club membership, volunteering, and event attendance also increased in 2023, and although event attendance figures are the highest ever recorded, club membership and volunteering figures are still slightly behind pre-pandemic highs measured in 2019. 

Commenting on the report's findings, Minister of State for Sport, Physical Education, and the Gaeltacht Thomas Byrne said: "I welcome the confirmation that nearly two million adults are participating in sport every week in Ireland, and I am determined to see these numbers continue to grow over the coming years.

"As Sport Minister, I am particularly heartened to note the progress being made in female sports participation and I know that the additional funding provided under the Women in Sport funding initiative has been crucial in this regard." 

Byrne added that the Irish Government will continue to work to ensure that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy the right to participate in sports. 

John Foley, Sport Ireland Chairperson, said: “The 2023 Sports Monitor presents positive numbers on participation and volunteering.

"Continuing to grow participation across all sectors of society is a major priority and we look forward to working with all our stakeholders in the achievement of our goals.”