By Cassie Worth
Great Britain’s centrally-contracted hockey players are able to resume full-time training only with immediate effect but can refuse to do so if they do not feel comfortable, guidance published on Wednesday said.
The document set out the terms for pros in football, cricket, rugby and Olympic sports who will be allowed to start training alone or in small groups and will also have to undergo one-to-one check ins with a medical expert before returning to clubs and performance centre or, in hockey’s case, at Bisham Abbey.
Training will require athletes to keep social distancing two metres apart at all times from their team-mates and anyone outside their household, while centres will be deep cleaned. The edict follows Holland’s return to training and Belgium last week.
The guidance added that elite sports should outline how there will be regular screening – athletes’ temperatures are expected to be screened daily – for coronavirus symptoms before athletes enter training environments. GB Hockey has yet to state when Bisham would open its doors to its athletes.
“The choice to return to training is a personal one,” said Sally Munday, the UK Sport chief executive. “Every sport is different and everyone’s personal circumstances are different.”
The government will next advise if sport can shift into the next phase of the return-to-play guidance. This would see elite athletes allowed to tackle again in “a level of social clustering”.
A final phase green light would mean matches taking place behind closed doors.
Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “I know our sports stars are keen to get back to training and this guidance will enable them to do so in a safe way.
“Our top priority is protecting the health of athletes, coaches and support staff. Enabling athletes to get match-fit is an important milestone towards restarting competitive sport behind closed doors – but we have not given a green light yet. We are clear that this can only happen on the advice of medical experts and when it is safe to do so.”
England Hockey said in a statement this week: “England Hockey are intending to issue advice and we are working with the relevant organisations in government and sport to provide the right advice for our players, clubs and other organisations.
“A detailed statement will be issued in the near future with more detail to follow over coming weeks as the situation becomes clearer for hockey.”
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