Slowly, but surely, Canadians across the country are coming out of isolation, anxious to resume some of their regular activities while understanding the important responsibility we all share to keep the COVID-19 curve from rising steeply again.
For a lot of people, but especially high-performance athletes, those regular activities include sport. And that is why National Sports Organizations (NSOs) are developing plans to guide Canadians safely back to sport, including training and competition.
Who is leading Canada’s Return to Sport?
A Return to Sport Task Force – chaired by Own the Podium and including representatives from the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC), as well as technical leaders from a diverse cross-section of sports (winter vs summer, team vs individual, etc) – is creating a national framework that will ensure athletes, coaches, and other staff will have the resources they need to safely return to high performance sport.
The COC’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Mike Wilkinson, is also directly involved, helping to monitor COVID-19 as the situation in Canada continues to evolve.
The focus for the national framework is on how sport activity will be reintroduced safely, cautiously, and methodically from the perspective of all participants. It includes a minimum baseline of standards, building on guidelines from health authorities.
The Return to Training phase is already underway for all levels of sport, from club to community to provincial to national level athletes. As that phase progresses, further guidelines will be developed for Return to Competition, both within Canada and internationally.
Have Canada’s Olympic athletes returned to training?
Many of Canada’s Tokyo 2020 hopefuls have resumed training, though most are still in modified training environments which are not optimal. The venues they need for more normal Olympic preparations can only become fully accessible if the COVID-19 curve continues its downward trend.
What Return to Sport guidelines have NSOs developed?
Most NSOs are focused on creating guidelines that include how things will look on competition days, the cleaning and disinfecting measures to put in place, and what training can look like. It should be noted that many requirements vary due to the guidelines set out by each province and they are being constantly adjusted as areas advance to new stages of re-opening.
Canada Soccer established Return to Soccer Guidelines for its member organizations, a five-step process that includes a checklist to help determine readiness and preparedness when it comes to resuming soccer in the new normal of COVID-19.
Similarly, Athletics Canada created Back on Track, which includes four primary steps, each with their own sub-steps:
- Public Health Allows Sport to Start
- Facility or Training Space is Available
- Club or Training Group Decides to Train
- Training Can Start with Club/Training Groups (involves tracking all athletes attending who must answer health questions daily and adhere to healthy and safety protocols, such as physical distancing)
Return to Swimming by Swimming Canada also highlights a commitment to “physical distancing at all stages of training, equipment cleanliness, hygiene, health monitoring, safe sport and on-going communication.”
For easy reference, here are links to the guidelines NSOs have developed to help Canadians return to their favourite sport safely while stopping the spread of COVID-19:
Canada Artistic Swimming
Canoe Kayak Canada
Climbing Escalade Canada
Diving Plongeon Canada
Canadian Fencing Federation
Field Hockey Canada
Table Tennis Canada
Water Polo Canada