Sport NI CEO Antoinette McKeown
Sport NI have published a framework to support a return to sport and physical recreation, in line with the NI Executive’s Five Step Plan.
Any timescale is a matter for the Executive following consultation with the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and Public Health Authority (PHA).
Only when the Executive judges that conditions are suitable and the key criteria to inform this judgement are presented within the Executive’s document, can sport resume.
Initial focus will be on the shift from the current RED Phase (Lockdown) to an AMBER phase when certain outdoor sports can start activity in small groups (2 to 10).
Following any announcements from the Executive, sports will have a short period of notice before any easing in public health measures to initiate a move towards amber.
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A risk assessment will need to be carried out, including numbers involved, social distancing and identification of a safe space for isolation of an individual should they become unwell and education will need provided to participants.
In time and when the Covid-19 outbreak is contained sufficiently, focus will shift on to step 3 which will be an extended YELLOW Phase when both outdoor and indoor sport activity would take place in larger groups, up to 30 people.
The next progression would be to a GREEN phase which would lead to full training and competition across sports in line within general PHA guidelines that exist at the time, a re-opening of leisure centres and spectators able to attend live sporting events in restricted numbers.
Completion of each phase will represent a key milestone in the progression towards the resumption of sport and physical recreation in Northern Ireland.
The time spent in each step may vary, from a minimum of three weeks, but if any of the criteria are met, this could stretch to six weeks, or more.
Caution will be important at each step but especially during the AMBER phase which encompasses steps 1 and step 2 of the Executive’s Pathway to recovery.
It provides for all sports, including outdoor recreation, from grassroots level to high performance sport and professional athletes.
Sport NI recognises that there are different categories, to cover the range in a manner that is useful and applicable within Northern Ireland.
1 - Outdoor Recreation
Hill walking, orienteering, mountain biking, angling
2 - Water sports
Canoeing, rowing, sailing, surfing, swimming
3 - Non-Contact
Weight-lifting, golf, tennis, cricket, bowls, archery, cycling, athletics, equestrian, motorsports
4 - Contact - lower risk (see 5 stages in image below)
Soccer, Gaelic football, camogie, hurling, hockey, netball, basketball
5 - Contact - higher risk
Rugby, boxing, wrestling, karate
6 - High Performance / Professional athletes
Here is the pathway for contact lower risk sports below. The rest can be viewed via the link below
“It is vitally important that we emerge from lockdown in a managed, safe and consistent way and this Framework will help with this process,” commented Minister for Communities Deirdre Hargey.
“I would urge the sports sector to use this Framework as they finalise their own protocols.”
Also commenting was Antoinette McKeown, Sport NI CEO.
“There is a huge appetite across sports; athletes, coaches, fans and spectators to return to sport and many sports are actively planning how to implement the first step on this pathway,” she said.
“Sport NI’s Framework aims to facilitate that and acts as an important bridge between the NI Executive’s document and the more detailed protocols that sports will need to develop on an individual basis.”
She commended the sporting bodies for their response to Covid-19 and highlighted the role they still have to play.
“Through responsible actions within each phase and at each of the five steps of the Executive’s pathway to recovery, all sport participants can play their part in gradually and safely transitioning NI towards a new type of normality.”
The full document can be viewed here...
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