The college football season opener between Notre Dame and Navy has been moved out of Ireland because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Irish and Midshipmen were scheduled to meet in Dublin on Aug. 29 but instead will seek to play at the Naval Academy during the Labor Day weekend. The decision to move the venue came after discussions between the Irish government, medical authorities and the leadership teams at Navy and Notre Dame.
"Our priority must be ensuring the health and safety of all involved," Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said. "I am expecting that we will still be able to play Notre Dame as our season opener, but there is still much to be determined by health officials and those that govern college football at large."
Notre Dame and Navy planned to stage the 94th consecutive installment of the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in the United States at Aviva Stadium in Ireland. Instead, the schools will strive to play at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland, on Sept. 5 or 6. This will be the first time the Fighting Irish will play at Navy's 34,000-seat stadium. The game is usually played at a larger alternative site when the Midshipmen host.
"College football is one of the greatest spectacles in world sport and we had been thoroughly looking forward to welcoming Navy and Notre Dame here this summer," said Leo Varadkar, the Prime Minister of Ireland. "Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, that is now not possible. But we hope to see both universities return to Aviva Stadium in the coming years."
The Navy-Notre Dame game at Aviva Stadium in 2012 attracted more than 35,000 fans from the United States. An estimated 40,000 people were expected to travel overseas this year’s matchup.
"Our student-athletes have had great experiences competing in Ireland and are very disappointed not to be returning to Dublin in 2020," Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said. "The change of venue has been a very difficult decision for our colleagues at the Naval Academy, but we are in full support of their choice. We look forward to going back to Ireland for a game in the not too distant future."