11th November 2020

UKA STATEMENT ON ATHLETES PROVIDED EXEMPTIONS TO CONTINUE TRAINING

British Athletics has published the following guidance in relation to athletes who can receive an exemption to continue accessing training facilities during this second lockdown period in England.

These guidelines were provided to athletes last week and there is also an accompanying set of FAQs to support queries.

Following further advice from UK Sport, the EIS, and the Chief Medical Officer’s Steering group, elite sport training sessions at the Loughborough National Performance Institute (NPI) and Lee Valley Athletics Centre, can continue under the government’s Elite Sport Return to Training guidelines. These guidelines are there to protect elite athletes and assist us in meeting our duty of care to elite athletes and our staff – please see the FAQs for our responsibilities under these guidelines.

However there is also a wider social responsibility to reduce COVID-19 transmission and to not over-burden the NHS and we have been reminded only this week by UK Sport of the importance of complying with all requirements and our collective responsibility to all sports to apply the government’s dispensation only as detailed.

With the safety of athletes and the community the priority, as of Thursday 5 November and until further notice, only the athletes fulfilling the following criteria have been granted an exemption which will permit them to continue accessing training facilities – as per British Athletics’ application of the government guidelines.

These are the athletes that are able to continue accessing the NPI in Loughborough, Lee Valley Athletics Centre or another facility (subject to it being able to support continued elite athlete training through fulfilling the Elite Sport Return to Training guidelines – please see FAQs):

• members of the World Class Programme and Futures/Para Futures Development programme
• athletes who have a current World Athletics or British Athletics Tokyo 2021 qualifying standard or World Athletics Invitation Quota Ranking* or Para athletes that are named on the Tokyo longlist
• athletes who were selected to represent GB & NI at Doha 2019 or Dubai 2019
• athletes who achieved 2020 British Athletics European Championships standards in Track & Field events during 2020

This means there will be athletes striving to compete for Great Britain who may not meet these criteria. Unfortunately, at this time, we are restricted by the limitations of the guidance and our responsibility to apply the guidance as it was intended, to protect athletes, staff and wider society and the NHS.

The situation is being kept under constant review and we will seek to expand the capacity when it is possible. Please reference the FAQs below for further information, and any other queries can be submitted to the following email: elitetrainingenquiries@britishathletics.org.uk.

FAQs

Q. What is the government’s definition of elite within their guidance?

A.
• an individual who derives a living from competing in a sport
• a senior representative nominated by a relevant sporting body
• a member of the senior training squad for a relevant sporting body, or
• aged 16 or above and on an elite development pathway.

For these purposes, a “relevant sporting body” is the national governing body of a sport which may nominate athletes to represent either (a) Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in Tokyo, or the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in Beijing, or (b) England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man at the Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham in those sports which are not part of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games programme.
A “senior representative” means a person who is considered by a relevant sporting body to be a candidate to qualify to compete on behalf of (a) Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in Tokyo or Beijing, or (b) England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man at the Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham in those sports which are not part of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games programme.
An “elite development pathway” means a development pathway established by the national governing body of a sport to prepare athletes (a) so that they may derive a living from competing in that sport, or (b) to compete in that sport in the Olympic or Paralympic Games.

 

Q. What are the Governing Body’s responsibilities?

A. Our requirements under the Elite Sport Return to Training guidance are numerous and include:
• Medical responsibility to lead on the management of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases
• Medical oversight of the return to training of athletes with suspected or confirmed COVID-19
• Ensuring staffing to balance training need, COVID-19 protocols and reduce the risk of increased burden to the NHS
• Symptom checking, screening and providing an environment in which the risk of transmission is mitigated to meet our duty of care to elite athletes and staff

 

Q. Who is being given ‘elite’ athlete status?

A. Athletes fulfilling the following criteria will be regarded as elite – as per British Athletics’ application of the government guidelines.

Members of the World Class Programme and Futures/Para Futures Development programme, athletes who have a current World Athletics or British Athletics Tokyo 2021 qualifying standard or World Athletics Invitation Quota Ranking* or Para athletes that are named on the Tokyo longlist, athletes who were selected to represent GB & NI at Doha 2019 or Dubai 2019 and athletes who achieved 2020 British Athletics European Championships standards in Track & Field events during 2020

(*Qualifying standard that has been set during 2019 or 2020 seasons)

 

Q. Why are you changing the definition of ‘elite’ in athletics?

A. As a result of the change in national (England) government guidance and the increasing prevalence of COVID-19 there are now increased challenges to delivering ‘elite’ sport safely. During the summer and the relaxation of constraints we were able to expand our definition of ‘elite’ to ensure as many athletes as possible could access training and competition. This position has to fundamentally change within athletics to ensure we are still able to fully comply with the guidance, and the definition reflects British Athletics’ application of the government guidelines.

Q Why do athletes on the Olympic longlist not all meet the elite criteria as per the Para athletes?

A. Para athletes are not subject to qualifying standards as per the Olympic programme, therefore the Para longlist reflects more accurately the cohort of athletes that are likely to compete at Tokyo 2021.

 

Q. Can I access anywhere to train if I meet the criteria of an elite athlete?

A. No. As an elite athlete, you can only access training facilities that are open under the governments Elite Sport Return to Training guidance. The only facility that British Athletics has a responsibility to manage is the NPI at Loughborough University. We also have staff at Lee Valley that will support continued elite athlete training and British Athletics can provide guidance to other facility operators and work with their COVID officers to review their elite athlete training policies if they are considering opening for elite athlete training.

 

Q. Will British Athletics provide the exemption to train to any international athletes to access elite training facilities?

A. No, under the terms of our COVID risk assessments and our responsibility as the Governing Body, we can only allow access to athletes that we are in a position to take full medical responsibility for, which include the athletes outlined in the exemption criteria above.

 

Q. What is a COVID Officer and their role?

A. A designated person who leads and oversees all aspects relating to COVID-19 in the training environment.

• Lead on ensuring any suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases are managed in line with the sport’s COVID-19 case management protocols and current government guidance.
• Have medical oversight of the return to training of any athletes with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19.
• Support the COVID Officer with any medical aspects of the risk assessment and mitigation process.

Q. There is a facility I want to access that believes it fulfils the Return to Sport criteria, can I access it?

A. Please contact British Athletics’ COVID officer Julie Hayton with details of the facility and the designated COVID Officer’s name and we can assess this accordingly. (jhayton@britishathletics.org.uk)

 

Q. If I meet the criteria of an elite athlete, can I bring my training partners to training with me?

A. No. Unfortunately, unless an athlete satisfies the British Athletics criteria, under the government guidance they cannot be classified as elite so will not be able to access facilities open for elite athlete training.

 

Q. As an elite athlete, can my coach and/or other members of my support team attend my training?

A. Yes, if they have completed all the required inductions and paperwork and fully comply with all operational guidelines in place.

 

Q. Why do athletes competing at Commonwealth Games level not meet the criteria?

A. As per the government criteria, definition of elite athletes within Commonwealth Games applies only to sports that are not already included within the Olympic and Paralympic Games programmes, and therefore do not apply to athletics.

 

Q. Why are the rules different for athletes in England as opposed to other HCAFs?

A. The differences in rules are down to the devolved administrations and governance of other home countries in relation to COVID guidelines.

 

Q. What are you doing about younger and non-elite athletes?

A. We are lobbying government alongside a number of other governing bodies as we know how important sport and exercise is to the physical and mental health for everyone. Unfortunately, the scope of the government guidelines does not extend to address how younger or athletes who sit outside of the ‘elite’ criteria can continue training in facilities during lockdown.

 

Q. If I have not been given a training exemption by British Athletics, how and where can I train?

A. As during this lockdown all gyms and sporting facilities should be closed unless they fulfil the Elite Sport Return to Training guidelines and are then only accessible for named athletes we strongly advise that you follow the government guidance for outdoor exercise.