Russia Won’t Reopen Federal Training Centers in May, Minister Says

The Ministry of Sport of the Russian Federation, led by Acting Minister Oleg Matytsin, held a meeting earlier today to discuss the country’s state of affairs in regards to the resumption of athletic events following the COVID-19 pandemic.

He says that, while many European countries have resumed training for their elite athletes or will in the next month, that National Training Centers in Russia would stay closed through May, and that the country would re-evaluate before July.

The video conference meeting, attended by the heads of each Russian sports federation, the Russian Olympic Committee, the Federal Medical and Biological Agency, and the Association for Olympic Sports, discussed the introduction of a phased plan to allow the resumption of training by the country’s various national teams. This meeting comes shortly after Vladimir Putin’s announcement that the country’s lockdown would extend until at least May 11th.

Matytsin opened the meeting by thanking the staff, coaches, and athletes of the various federations for their efforts to help minimize the spread of the virus and for their patience as a route towards resuming normal training was developed. He went on to talk about that resumption of training saying that, with no clear dates set as to when competition at the international or national levels would begin, there was no clear date at which training would resume.

He went on to discuss the Ministry’s work on the development of a plan to allow the resumption of training. The draft they have created aims at minimizing, and ideally eliminating, all risk of a new coronavirus infection within the various federation’s athletes while allowing them to return to normal training. The plan is designed to allow individual federations to implement the strategies set forward on their own while transitioning into a normal working and mode following the easement of restrictions.

A letter was sent to the Rospotrebnadzor, a division of the Russian Ministry of Health Care, asking that the country’s sports federations be given special consideration in regards to the countries current self-isolation policies. He also mentioned the need for federations to perform in-depth medical examinations prior to the resumption of centralized training in order to minimize the risk of the disease’s spread. Ultimately Matytsin said that, while the return to training was of the utmost priority, the re-opening of national training centers would not be occurring during the month of May. He said that the situation would be re-evaluated come July and a decision would be made in the athletes’ best interest.

Matytsin recently stated that, in the wake of the current pandemic, international sporting authorities should “turn a new page” in regards to Russian doping bans. Last December Russia was handed a four-year suspension by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, some Russian athletes have taken to helping the country in both medical and other fields. WUG’s champion Egor Kuimov has assisted with delivering supplies to those at higher risk while he is away from the pool.

Russia has 99,399 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 972 deaths caused by COVID-19.

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