Dublin businesses alone stand to lose €106m this summer after Uefa announced the postponement of the Euro 2020 football tournament until next summer due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The tournament was due to kick off on June 12 and would have seen Dublin host four games on June 15, 19, 24 and 30 in what Dublin City Council had billed as "the largest sporting event ever to come to these shores".
However, following a crisis meeting yesterday, officials from Uefa announced that the four play-off matches will now be played in early June 2021 on dates that were previously earmarked for friendly games ahead of the tournament, "if Covid-19 conditions permit".
The tournament will still go ahead as planned in the 12 host cities in Europe between June 11 and July 11, 2021.
Poland and Sweden will play here and be joined by whoever emerges from the play-offs involving the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Slovakia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Tickets for the postponed games will still be honoured, but fans who are unwilling or unable to attend will be offered refunds, Uefa confirmed. The unprecedented move was due to the need to protect the public and players from the escalating coronavirus threat, according to the sporting body.
Up to 100,000 fans from abroad were due to descend on the capital.
Dublin City Council had earmarked close to €3m to set up official fan zones and a Football Village at Dublin Castle and Merrion Square Park.
Up to 5,000 people were expected to throng the Football Village, while up to 10,000 people at a time were to watch the matches on giant screens.
Officials from Dublin City Council could not be reached yesterday to say if those plans will still go ahead next year.
The FAI's interim deputy chief executive Niall Quinn last night poured cold water on suggestions the postponement might ultimately result in more games being played in Dublin.
"I don't know if we should be thinking like that right now," he said. "What we should be doing is rubber stamping the work that has been done for so long with those partners, with Dublin City Council, with the Department of Sport, the Aviva Stadium, ourselves and others, an Garda, GAA, we've just got to make sure we do that.
"Although it's a blow to lose out by a year, we can make it bigger and better as the year builds up, and have a great tournament here for what we do get and show Uefa we'll have a great tournament here."
The Irish Tourism Industry Federation (ITIF), representing 20,000 businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors, said the postponement of the event will come as a massive blow to such businesses that are already fearful of being decimated by the coronavirus outbreak.
At least €106m that was expected to be generated in spin-off revenue in Dublin alone will be taken out of the economy this summer, according to the Dublin Chamber of Commerce.
The fall-out will also impact other related industries, such as the already hard-hit airline industry, ferry companies, tour operators and even TV advertisers, according to ITIF chief executive Eoghan O'Mara Walsh.
"The whole coronavirus thing is huge in impact and this is a further hammer blow," he told the Herald.
"Even if the virus passes, the Irish tourism industry will be very, very vulnerable," he said.
The federation, whose members collectively employ around 265,000 people in an industry worth €9.2bn a year, is bracing itself for a very difficult year ahead, he said.
"The one thing we can be sure of is that one in 10 people (currently employed in the sector) will be affected," he said. "2020 will really be an awful year. As the crisis continues to gain momentum with the closure of all pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality industries, the federation is calling on the Government for a range of supports."
The Dublin Chamber of Commerce said that while the postponement of the tournament this summer will "hit businesses hard", they will be able to weather the storm.
"The good thing is it's still coming a year later," said spokesman Graeme McQueen.