Irish Sport Monitor 2023 Report Shows Sport Participation On The Up

Sport Ireland Report

⦁ Sport Minister Thomas Byrne TD & Sport Ireland reveal record-high participation rates in sport 

⦁ Nearly two million adults in Ireland participate in sport every week – more than ever before 

⦁ Significant recovery from pandemic levels of participation 

⦁ Ireland making progress towards achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals 


Minister Thomas Byrne joined Sport Ireland today (May 28, 2024) to publish the Irish Sport Monitor Report 2023 which shows nearly two million adults in Ireland participate in sport every week – more than ever before.

Regular participation rates have grown from a low of 40% at the peak of the pandemic in 2021 to 47%, while the difference in sports participation rates between men and women in 2023 is the narrowest on record at just under 3%. This is largely due to women’s sports participation increasing by 6% between 2022 and 2023 – it now stands at 46% compared to 49% for men.

Minister of State for Sport, Physical Education and the Gaeltacht, Thomas Byrne TD, said: 

“It is terrific to see record levels in sports participation recorded in Ireland which are underpinned by record levels in state funding for sport. 

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. 

As a Government, we are making real progress in delivering on our key policy targets for sport and we will continue working to ensure that every person, of every ability, can enjoy the right to participate in sport.”


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. 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. 


Sport Ireland CEO, Dr Úna May, said: 

“Sport Ireland’s commitment to research underpins our decisions at every step. The 2023 ISM report provides invaluable insights to Ireland’s sports participation and physical activity levels. 

I would like to acknowledge the Government, our National Governing Bodies, and Local Sports Partnerships, local clubs, coaches, officials, volunteers and participants for their commitment to promoting sport in all its forms.”   


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. 

Sport Ireland has also released a report mapping the contribution of the Irish National Sports Policy (NSP) to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in total the NSP aligns closely with 10 of the SDGs. 

There are 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, along with 169 targets, and 237 unique indicators forming the framework for global development through to 2030. Ireland is one of 193 member states of the UN which has pledged its commitment to this universal agenda to address all three dimensions of sustainable development; economic, social, and environmental. 


Benny Cullen, Director of Research and Innovation at Sport Ireland, said: 

“I want to extend my thanks to all those who contributed to producing these two important research reports including our research colleagues in IPSOS and In Focus. The 2023 ISM is a critical report which generates debate, discussion and helps to inform how we can promote sport participation and physical activity throughout Irish society. There remains a large body of work to sustainably achieve the ambitious NSP targets for sports participation rates to reach 60% by 2027.” 


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.” 

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