By the NATA International Committee
What is happening specific to the return to sports globally during the COVID-19 pandemic? That was the fundamental question the NATA International Committee aimed to address with the information outlined below. We thank the members who responded to our email survey asking about their experiences as athletic trainers practicing internationally and hope their shared information provides some insight to all members about what is happening around the world.
Sport clubs in Germany have been open since June, but each state within the country has its own guidelines. For sports in German clubs, teams have designated changing rooms with limited capacity to allow for physical distancing and athletes must always wear a mask in the changing room. Athletes are not allowed back into changing rooms after training or games and must go straight home. No showers are available. Cleaning of high-contact surfaces in changing rooms is completed after each team uses a room. All equipment is also disinfected after each practice or game. Handshakes, huddles, hugs and high-fives are not allowed – celebrations and team discussions should be physically distanced. This is probably the hardest aspect for athletes. Spectators are permitted in some states with limited numbers depending one local regulations, but everyone must be physically distanced and wearing masks.
In Japan, the national federations and professional leagues are handling the situation differently, but most are slowly restarting events (professional and amateur) while implementing precautionary measures, such as hosting events with no spectators, periodic testing of athletes and staff members and establishing reporting structures for when test results do return positive. Collegiate athletics can be somewhat confusing since teams receive guidelines from their own university, sport federation and local government so no generalized statement can be made.
Special thanks to Yuri Hosokawa, PhD, ATC, assistant professor at Waseda University in Tokyo for sharing this information.
Since April and May, Taiwan has been at level three, even though they have not had any confirmed coronavirus cases in months. Level three restricts schools from having any athletic events while school is in session. Level three is described with the word “caution” and requires face masks to be worn for all indoor and outdoor sports. For indoor sports, a two-minute break every 15 minutes is mandated regardless of practice or play. For all outdoor sports a two-minute break is mandated every 10 minutes of practice or play unless two-meter social distancing can be sustained and maintained. Access to facilities and equipment is limited and partially restricted. Competition is only permitted with on-island teams that have been screened. Although there has been a decrease from level five, or “severe,” in which campuses were closed completely to level four, “moderate,” in which campus closed at the end of the school day with no athletics permitted, the Taipei American school hopes to decrease their risk level to two and, ultimately, level one.
Special thanks to Amber Hardy, MS, ATC, head athletic trainer and concussion case manager at Taipei American School, for sharing this information.
Belgium launched the federal phase of crisis management of COVID-19 by the National Security Council March 12. Since then, Belgium moved toward a phased approach of deconfinement and outlined subsequent policies for an exit strategy. The federal government set minimum standards and released some management autonomy to the provincial and local levels. For sports and physical activity, guidelines have been set by the federal government, various ministries, provinces, language communities and localities.
The International School of Brussels (ISB) is following guidelines set by L’Administration générale du Sport for the Brussels-region, French-speaking community. Simultaneously, ISB must follow standards set by the Ministry of Education as an academic institution. This includes a four-stage model to determine school status based on the COVID-19 threat level and stringent management guidelines. Currently, school is fully on-campus during the week and offers online accommodation for anyone who may need to be in quarantine. Athletics is practicing on a limited basis.
Special thanks to Jared Maisel, MS, ATC, CSCS, athletic trainer and Business Technology and Education Council sport teacher at ISB, for sharing this information.
Visit the International Professional Interests section for more information and resources.