Government gives go ahead for elite sport to return behind closed doors

The Government has issued health and safety guidelines which will pave the way for elite sport to return behind closed doors in England from Monday.

The rules form stage three of the process of bringing sport back from the coronavirus lockdown. Stage two, which allowed for close-contact training for elite athletes, was published last Monday.

Horse racing is due to resume at Newcastle on Monday with the first major meeting, involving the 2000 Guineas Stakes at Newmarket, coming on June 6.

Premier League football is scheduled to restart on June 17 with the English Football League set to follow later in the month, subject to club votes and approval from police and other safety bodies.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport guidance has been issued in consultation with England’s deputy chief medical officers, Public Health England and medical representatives across sports governing bodies.

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As well as ensuring no spectators are present at events, conditions have been made for sports fixtures to go ahead. Participants must travel alone and in private transport, while everyone entering a venue must be screened for Covid-19 and anyone suspected of having the virus must be placed in isolation.

A one-way system of movement must be established around the venue, while social distancing must be maintained “where possible” – including celebrations and sitting on the bench.

Dressing room use is to be minimised although showers can be taken in line with guidelines, advice for personal protective equipment must be followed., while physio treatment should be limited to essentials.

Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: ‘The wait is over. Live British sport will shortly be back on in safe and carefully controlled environments.

‘This guidance provides the safe framework for sports to resume competitions behind closed doors. It is now up to individual sports to confirm they can meet these protocols and decide when it’s right for them to restart.

‘This is a significant moment for British sport. By working with clinicians every step of the way, we are creating the safest possible environments for everyone involved.’

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