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statement from jo coates - ceo of uk athletics 

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Joanna Coates


9 April 2020

The sport of athletics is currently in unchartered territory, with the coronavirus outbreak impacting at a global, national and local level.

As the governing body for the sport of athletics in the UK, it is imperative that we continue to operate effectively through the current crisis and control our expenditure whilst adhering to the Government’s guidelines and instructions.

The Home Country Athletics Federations and ourselves have taken unprecedented actions to protect our athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and staff. For all of their continued hard work and efforts, I would like to thank each and every one who plays a part in making this sport happen. I appreciate that you are all facing and having to deal with varying personal challenges, while simultaneously supporting UKA.

As a result of the increased measures taken to combat the spread of the virus, we find ourselves operating in a very different reality. Consequently, we must adapt and look to change the way we operate throughout the crisis to safeguard the organisation, the sport and our employees.

Adhering to the guidelines is leading to further reduced workloads across the governing body, as well as a significant reduction in income. As such we need to take mitigating actions to protect the governance of the wider sport. 

On 20 March, the Government announced an emergency Job Retention Scheme to financially support UK businesses in retaining their employees during the coronavirus outbreak. This is widely known as furloughing.

UK Athletics have taken the decision to furlough a certain number of roles - a decision not taken lightly but one that aims to ensure a return to normal staffing and operational levels once the crisis has passed, so that we can once again serve and support the sport.

Initially we are aiming to furlough 11 members of staff from our team mainly based at the organisation’s head office. This number will remain under constant review as the Coronavirus crisis develops. We will aim to provide ongoing support and guidance for furloughed staff as well as online training opportunities and supporting requests for them to undertake valuable volunteering opportunities.

We are incredibly grateful that the government has put in place essential measures that will enable us to safeguard jobs in future and for the ongoing support and guidance from UK Sport and all our stakeholders and partners.

Athletics is the base of all sports, whether it is running, jumping, throwing and pushing and it is great that so many are discovering the sport as part of their one session of outdoor exercise a day.

Finally, whilst we will look forward to a time when competition and participation can resume in full force, we ask that where possible, and if your circumstances allow, members of clubs from all home nations continue to affiliate and renew their memberships so that this vital network can support the future recovery from this challenging period.