British elite athletes must respect spacing in training

LONDON: British elite athletes must respect guidelines in social distancing and be aware of the risks when they resume individual performance training after the coronavirus confinement, according to the guidance published on Wednesday.

The document sets out the terms for athletes in a first step to allow the return of live sport in the country.

The government has said that elite sport in England cannot return until at least June 1 and will have to take place without the presence of spectators.

Allowing athletes to get fit is an important milestone to restart competitive sport behind closed doors, but we have not yet given the green light, said Secretary of Culture Oliver Dowden.

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We are clear that this can only happen on the advice of medical experts and when it is safe to do so.

Training, in elite official venues under carefully controlled medical conditions, will require athletes to stay within two meters of their teammates and anyone outside their home at all times.

"Organised training should only be resumed where government guidelines in social distancing can be adhered to, considering any terms of dispensation allowed for elite sport," the guidance said.

He added that sports should outline how there will be regular screening for COVID-19 symptoms before athletes enter training environments.

All athletes and support staff will be expected to undergo one-to-one check-ups and briefings before any organised training which will also highlight sport-specific risks and the measures to mitigate them.

The guide also covers measures such as deep cleaning of facilities.

Guidance on the second step will be provided later, to include a level of social grouping subject to medical experts giving the go-ahead.

"It is important to note that the publication of this guidance does not mean that all Olympic and Paralympic sports and athletes should return to training straight away," said UK Sport chief executive Sally Munday.

"Indeed, we fully expect different sports will return to training at different times.

Each sport will need to do a risk assessment against the guide and determine what is best for its athletes and staff.

Munday said returning to training was a personal choice and recognised there might be concerns or circumstances that made it challenging.