With swimmers around the world slowly being able to return to the pool water, national federations are releasing specific guidelines to which athletes, coaches, and other personnel must abide in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). These guidelines typically cover topics ranging from health status checks to social distancing when swimmers take to the lanes for practice after months of pandemic-related lockdowns.
We already reported how the Japanese Swimming Federation (JASF) was one of the first federations to include recommendations for monitoring athletes’ mental health when returning to training. In its own summary of steps for aquatic athletes to slowly ramp up their training, the organization was careful to include valuable insight into the psychological factors coming into play when athletes return to sport from a long, involuntary hiatus.
Now the nation’s aquatic governing body has published one of the first sets of guidelines specific to competitions themselves. The Guidelines for Prevention of Infection Spread for Resuming Sports Events details what needs to happen at swimming competitions to keep everyone healthy, from participants to organizers to spectators.
Here are highlights from the federation documents specifically addressing a return to competition:
- Organizers must screen incoming persons for temperature checks and ask for a completed health checklist, ensuring that no one enters that has had coronavirus symptoms over the past 2 weeks
- Organizers must also prevent entry to anyone who, within the past 14 days, has been in a country with entry restrictions
- The use of lockers in the changing room is prohibited unless disinfection after each use is possible
- Athletes are prohibited from spitting
- Athletes must wear a mask when not swimming
- The number of spectator seats will be reduced
- Garbage containing human fluids (saliva, mucus) should be placed in a plastic bag, sealed and collected
Additionally, there are protocols provided for award ceremonies as well, with these special events traditionally involving athlete hugs and handshakes pre-pandemic. The JASF says that ceremonies can indeed proceed, but only if the methods avoid the congestion of too many people and are also conducted in the shortest amount of time.
Medal recipients are encouraged to keep a sufficient distance from people and wear masks. The masks can be removed for photos, but no talking is permitted under those circumstances.