UKSA update on COVID-19 (Coronavirus) impact

Update 18 March 2020: Advice on UKSA Business/home working,  Classification, GB Team and Virtus European & World Events

In light of the current situation with COVID-19, we wanted to share an update on what we are doing to continue business as normal as far as possible.

Our biggest priority is the health and safety of volunteers, athletes and support staff so we are paying close attention to Government updates.

UKSA Business, Meetings and day to day work (including classification)

At present it is business as normal.  Given our voluntary staff and agile structure, working from home is a practice we are already familiar with and implementing.  We will however be restricting our travel and attendance at meetings and events from this point forward.  We will operate virtual meetings where possible.

We will continue to receive and evaluate eligibility and classification applications as normal.  We encourage all of you that are preparing applications to continue to do so and get them to us as soon as possible.  This will help you, Governing Bodies and the sector as a whole to be ready for action after the current restrictions end.  Athletes need to be ready to re-engage with events Governing Bodies and other agencies once restrictions begin to lift.

We will also continue our work in other areas eg. event planning, sports committees, general information distribution, publishing athlete fee information etc, again in preparation for a few months time as the UK and world as a whole come out the other end of the current restrictions.

We recognise that this is a worrying and challenging time for us all, but we hope, in trying to keep things moving forward in so far as we and you are able, we will all be in the very best position to re-engage fully once the restrictions end.

GB Team and Virtus Events

One major area of focus at the moment is the impact of the virus on Virtus (Inas) championship programme and the responses from around the world to the spread to prevent Covid-19 spreading.

The following Virtus events have been cancelled or postponed due to the virus:

  • European Winter Games – March 2020 (Italy): postponed until December 2020
  • World Skiing Championships – March 2020 (Italy): cancelled
  • Governing Board Meeting – March 2020 (Brazil): to be held by video conference
  • Virtus Americas meeting & eligibility workshop – March 2020 (Brazil): cancelled

At present no other information has been received on other events. Three events being considered carefully by UKSA are:

European Athletics & Swimming Championships, Russia, 20th-26th June 2020

The plan for the European Swimming and Athletics Championships in Russia is uncertain.  Whilst we have received information about the event from the Organising Committee, this has come with an advice NOT to book tickets yet.  This is a major cause for concern.  An additional concern is also that Russia has in the last 48 hours closed some of its land borders due to the virus.  We are awaiting more information from the Organisers and Inas (Virtus) Europe.

Although we know that the event is over 8 weeks away, given all of the above, we are advising all interested athletes and potential coaching staff that there is a very real chance that we will not send a GB Team to the Russian event this year.  No decision has yet been made.

World Tennis Championships, Belgium, 18 – 26th July 2020

Up to today (18.3.20) Virtus has advised that the World Tennis Championships are going ahead. Virtus are however, closely monitoring WHO advice on travel and sports events to advise us of any changes in the days and weeks to come.

We will be speaking to the LTA in the coming days to take a view on the feasibility of sending a GB Team to the Tennis event given the uncertainties.  We will also consider when a final decision on a GB Team will need to be made.

World Cycling Championships, Portugal 21st – 27th July 2020

We have received entry information for this event.  At present, we have not been advised of any changes to the planned dates.  Virtus are closely monitoring WHO advice on travel and sports events to advise us of any changes in the days and weeks to come.

UKSA will continue to review the changing situation and consider when a final decision on a GB entry needs to be made.

Next Steps – GB Team

We know that there will be real disappointment if there is a decision to postpone any GB Team at Virtus events in the next few months. However the health and safety of the GB Team is of paramount importance.  As the virus continues to spread we need to be mindful of what might happen if a GB Team were to be overseas at an event.  This includes how a Team would return home given the travel disruptions or how a team would be cared for if someone became unwell overseas.  This is all very uncertain territory.

The UK Governments advice this week said that the restrictions in place may become more and that we should expect these challenges with Covid-19 to last for quite a while.  We need to take this advice very seriously.

The UKSA Board will monitor bulletins from the UK Government advisors, plus communications from Virtus and the event Organisers in order to take a final decision on the GB Team as soon as possible.  We are unable to give a date just yet of when this final decision will be made.  However we will keep you up to date through our website and social media.

Further Advice and Guidance

In the meantime, we encourage you all to follow Government advice, keep up to date with changes and keep safe.  Here are some links to useful information being given

Government Advice

Government Easy Read Advice

NHS Advice

Easy read information on Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and how to stay safe (Mencap)

Sport England Guidance on how to stay active at home

And finally a word to our emergency services, doctors, nurses and NHS staff – thank you for all that you have done so far and all that you will continue to do to support everyone in the UK whilst we cope with the impact of Covid-19 (Coronavirus).

We know that many of you reading this notice will be part of the emergency services and we acknowledge how you are working hard to protect and treat us all.  We know it is a difficult time for you too.

Our very best wishes to all athletes, colleagues, stakeholders, coaches, volunteers and families. We will keep you updated through our website and social media, but if you have any questions, please contact us and we will try to answer the questions you might have.

Best wishes,

Tracey McCillen, CEO & The UKSA Board