Government outlines conditions for elite athletes’ return to competitive training

The government has outlined the conditions for elite athletes and professional sportsmen and women to resume competitive training, in the latest move towards a resumption of live sport behind closed doors when medical experts advise that it is safe to do so.

The ‘stage two’ guidance, published today by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), has been developed in close consultation with the Deputy Chief Medical Officers of England, Public Health England and medical representatives across Olympic, Paralympic and professional sports governing bodies.

The guidance makes clear that elite athletes can carry out organised, close contact training – such as close quarters coaching and team sports’ tackling – so that players can get match fit, under carefully controlled medical conditions.

However sports bodies, clubs and teams will have a responsibility to decide, in consultation with athletes, coaches and support staff, when it is safe and appropriate to move to stage two training. They are expected to be fully briefed to ensure they have understood the specific risks and mitigations, training site protocols, and the importance of maintaining frequent personal hygiene measures. Athletes and staff should also be clear on their option to ‘opt out’ at any time.

All athletes, coaches and support staff must also adhere to the existing social distancing guidelines travelling to and from training, and keep time spent within a two metre distance during training to a minimum. Equipment sharing should be avoided, and communal areas, such as changing rooms, cafes, team rooms and recovery spaces, should remain closed where possible. Other restrictions applying to the general population must continue to be adhered to outside training.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “This new guidance marks the latest phase of a carefully phased return to training process for elite athletes, designed to limit the risk of injury and protect the health and safety of all involved.

“We are absolutely clear that individual sports must review whether they have the appropriate carefully controlled medical conditions in place before they can proceed, and secure the confidence of athletes, coaches and support staff.

“Given the wide ranging input we have received from medical experts, we believe these pragmatic measures should provide further reassurance that a safe, competitive training environment can be delivered, as we work towards a restart of professional sport behind closed doors when it is safe to do so.”

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