At this difficult time for the World at large, we recognise that sport is not the most important issue. However, as with most industries and communities at the moment the impact of Coronavirus on sport around the World and here in the UK is already proving to be devastating in many ways. Public health and safety is of course everyone’s top priority right now, and we are working closely with Government so that we can best advise and support all UK Sport funded organisations.
All of our funded sports have been advised to keep abreast of the latest Government and NHS guidance on:
- Self-isolation and how to avoid catching or spreading the virus
- Social distancing
Below is further guidance we have issued around athletes and their training commitments and environments, elite training facilities, major events and our World Class Programme.
We have sought specific advice from government on athletes and their training commitments which is:
“It will be for individual governing bodies to determine this, in light of the guidance on social distancing and their assessment of any particular risks to their staff, for example, if cases have been suspected or confirmed. If they feel they can create a safe environment and need to continue training activity, they may consider doing so.”
We have also advised sports that an ‘informed choice’ approach must be taken; if any athlete or staff member (of either sport or host/operator) does not feel that a safe environment can be created and/or maintained and/or they have mental or physical wellbeing concerns for themselves, family members of those vulnerable whom they come in to contact with then they should make that clear and they should have the choice on whether to attend.
Elite training facilities
We have also sought specific advice from government on elite training facilities and they have stated the following:
“If the operators feel they can provide a safe environment, given the guidance on social distancing and protecting vulnerable groups, then they may wish to consider staying open to accommodate elite athletes.”
In addition, specific guidance has been provided by UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport around additional care that must be taken with regards vulnerable groups, which will, by their very nature, include those with underlying health conditions and some of our Paralympic athletes.
UK Sport has also shared this guidance with all Elite Training Centres.
On Monday (16.03.20) the Prime Minister gave a statement in which the government advised “everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel”. The Prime Minister also said that, because government was advising against unnecessary contact of all kinds, “it is right that we should extend this advice to mass gatherings as well”.
In lieu of further specific guidance around mass gatherings, our interpretation of the government’s advice is that major events should not be going ahead, as it would be incongruous to support the staging of something that everyone should avoid.
National Governing Bodies and event organisers are encouraged to maintain an active dialogue with the Major Events Team at UK Sport, so that we can understand and (where possible) assist NGBs in making the necessary arrangements.
World Class Programme funding and support
UK Sport will generally not seek to recover any financial investment in the World Class Programme (including Athlete Performance Awards) due to disruption caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, subject to UK Sport being satisfied that:
- All actions taken in respect of the World Class Programme are in accordance with any relevant UK Government guidance, and
- All reasonable steps have and continue to be made to minimise any financial loses, for example through insurance.
UK Sport will consider requests for its funding to be used in any manner that has not previously been agreed on a case-by-case basis, and this will be subject to prior written approval from UK Sport.