CONI and the Paralympic Committee have joined forces with the Politecnico di Torino to produce the report: “Relaunching sport safely”. It sets out, in 404 pages, the details and risks of infection from 0 to 4: the least safe sports are combat sports, team sports and certain individual disciplines like the long jump. Protective goggles for tennis.
In the already complicated process of relaunching sport another element of confusion was the last thing that was needed. Though unintentionally, and with the mitigating factor of good intentions, the various medical-scientific committees of each individual sports federation had set out their own exit strategies from the Covid-19 emergency. It was therefore necessary to summarise all the issues facing each individual sport in a single document using the same criteria. Both CONI and CIP (the Paralympic Committee) have commissioned the Politecnico di Torino to develop a single manual for the 387 sporting disciplines. The report has already been delivered to the Minister of Sport, Vincenzo Spadafora, the person who had actually requested it from presidents Malagò and Pancalli. His ministry is responsible for its overall evaluation and subsequent presentation to the CTS, the government’s scientific technical committee. It will fall to Palazzo Chigi to make the final decision, to issue authorisations and to announce when it will be possible to reopen facilities also for basic activities. Another issue regards the resumption of individual training for “athletes of national interest”. They will be able to do this from 4 May, though with many difficulties owing to the scarcity of available facilities.
Risk factors from 0 to 4
A painstaking, complete and complex document of 404 pages entitled: “Relaunching sport safely”. The report includes recommendations by the Federation of Sports Doctors (FMSI), the only sports body recognised and therefore accredited by the Ministry of Health. It contains page after page of tables: each individual sport is placed on a grid to define its risk factors on a scale from 0 to 4: 0 non-existent, 1 poor, 2 medium, 3 high, 4 very high. The experts at the Polytechnic started, based on self-assessments provided by the individual sports, to examine the dangers of each discipline based on an analysis of the training locations, the competitive locations and, once the emergency has passed, the impact of public attendance at events. We might call them guidelines for athletes, coaches, and medical and logistical staff. For everyone, the need to comply with the required distances between people is the first commandment.
All team sports are in a risk class of 2 to 4: therefore medium-high. In football and volleyball, for example, the risk factor rises to 3 due to the number of players involved, contact between the athletes themselves and their proximity in changing rooms. In basketball, the risk factor rises to 4 due to the indoor training and competitive environment. Again in team sports, training to try out tactical schemes is forbidden and must be replaced by theory-based activities. When a match takes place swabs must be taken 48 hours before the event, with face masks being used by players sitting on the bench.
Among the specific individual sports, swimming and athletics (in the sense of running) have a risk factor of 0 during training which, however, rises to 3 during competitive races, due to the possibility of contact between the athletes. Long jump, on the other hand, is a discipline regarded as high risk (4) due to the need to land in sand: a non-sanitised and easily dispersed surface. For both singles and doubles tennis protective goggles are recommended to avoid contact between the eyes and hands, together with the use of personalized balls. In combat sports, for example boxing and judo, there is no possibility of complying with the safety criteria. For disciplines requiring the use of equipment, like archery, high jump and fencing, each individual piece of equipment must be disinfected before and after training. Another issue regards multiple crews in rowing and sailing, for which the number of athletes must be reduced. Sports with a low risk of infection, again provided that personal distancing is respected, are golf, cycling, horse riding and artistic gymnastics (unlike rhythmic gymnastics which involves group choreography).
The ethical role of athletes: “Everyone protects everyone else”
The report by the Politecnico di Torino concludes with a recommendation intended for each individual athlete. “Athletes, as public figures, role models for values, and as people of high dedication and resilience, can help to convey these socially responsible habits according to the principle of “EVERYONE PROTECTS EVERYONE ELSE”.
(source SKY TG24)