04 May 2020
The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and Sport Australia welcomes the Australian Government’s national principles for a return to sport. The AIS has published a complementary framework to help guide sports through this process safely.
The AIS played a central role in the development of the Return to Sport National Guiding Principles endorsed by National Cabinet last Friday, which is in step with The AIS Framework for Rebooting Sport in a COVID-19 Environment.
The AIS team, led by AIS Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr David Hughes, developed the Framework in collaboration with sport CMOs around Australia, in consultation with the Federal Government’s CMOs and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), as the guide for the reintroduction of sport and recreation in Australia following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Federal, State and Territory public health authorities will ultimately determine when sport and recreation resumes, with National Cabinet to consider further measures this week as part of a broader package. Dr Hughes said the AIS Framework was developed to provide recommendations on how sports can implement return plans as safely as possible.
“Sport organisations and participants are being faced with complex decisions regarding resumption of training and competition in the current circumstances,” Dr Hughes said.
“The AIS Framework covers all levels of sport from community participation to high performance competition, guiding sporting organisations and individuals on how to resume sporting activity in a cautious and methodical manner. A key principle guiding the creation of the Framework has been to ensure the resumption of sport does not endanger the health of the community.
“Australia enjoys the many benefits of a rich sporting culture. There is abundant evidence that sport delivers physical, psychological and emotional benefits to participants. Sport can play a crucial role at this time, in assisting the Australian community recover some sense of normality in a COVID-19 environment.”
The AIS Framework recommends a staged approach in any return to sport, with each stage – Level A, B & C - requiring a range of risk management considerations, including an analysis of safe environments and education of participants.
The AIS Framework also provides detailed consideration of the differences across all sports including contact and non-contact sport, indoor and outdoor activity, along with a sport-by-sport guide to return to play.
AIS CEO Peter Conde acknowledged the role Dr Hughes has played in the development of the AIS Framework.
“We are fortunate to have a process for safe return to sport guided by a CMO who is highly respected in Australia and internationally,” Conde said. “David Hughes and his team have worked closely with medical leaders across the Australian high performance system to deliver this framework.”
“We will continue to work with the high performance system on a phased return to training but all sports will be guided by National Cabinet decisions and State and Territory regulations.
“This includes a return to training for high performance athletes and groups at the AIS Campus in Canberra.”
Sport Australia Acting CEO Rob Dalton urged sports and participants to keep community safety at their front of mind.
“Everyone in the sporting community is keen to see the return of sport, something we all love,” Dalton said. “But when it does come time to initiate that return to sport, it is incumbent on all of us - participants, administrators, parents, guardians, coaches, spectators, officials and volunteers – to play our role in doing so safely and stop the spread of COVID-19.”
“When we get through this challenging period, we know sport can play a prominent role in lifting the nation’s energy and spirits again.”
To return to sport more quickly, the AIS and Sport Australia encourages athletes and fans alike to download the #COVIDSafe app to help authorities find and contain any outbreaks, while keeping Australia safe.