Message from the CEO of Welsh Athletics - end of suspension of Athletics
I am delighted to see the Welsh Government progressing through their roadmap, with particular reference to the opening of outdoor sports courts and the ability for elite athletes to resume training.
Welsh Athletics staff have been in detailed discussions with Welsh Government, via Sport Wales and the Welsh Sports Association that has contributed to the updated guidance announced today by the First Minister.
Aligned to today's announcement, the suspension of the sport in Wales has now been lifted (competition still in place until the end of June).
To supplement the Welsh Athletics ‘lifting athletics out of lockdown’ roadmap, a number of detailed guidance documents have been released that will provide additional information on the restrictions that remain in place.
Despite today's announcement and the positive impact that it will have on the sport, I feel it only right to manage the expectations of the members about what this means in practical terms:
Albeit the law has been amended and facilities can now open, it is unlikely that we will see any immediate change in the status of most facilities across Wales. All facility operators will now have to undertake their own risk assessments and begin to get their facility ready to open aligned to Welsh Government requirements on social distancing and hygiene. This may take several weeks for some operators. Welsh Athletics will continue to engage in positive discussions with each operator, and stand ready to support where possible. We would encourage athletes and coaches to engage with their clubs on the status of their traditional training venues.
Another constant query is around the ability for running groups to re-start;
- All activity must be undertaken within the Welsh Government guidance on social distancing – this includes travel restrictions and the requirement to engage with no more than one other person outside your household. Running groups should not undertake any activities that do not meet Welsh Government guidance.
- In relation to coaching, our guidance provides additional detail on how this can be done in a safe manner. Again, all coaching must be carried out within the Welsh Government guidance, but it is now possible to undertake physical coaching with no more than one other person from outside your household.
Today's announcement also paves the way for many of Wales elite athletes to return to training. We have been working tirelessly with Sport Wales, Commonwealth Games Wales, the Welsh Sports Association and Cardiff Met University to ensure that our elite athletes can return in a safe and controlled manner. This process will be phased, with a small number of able-bodied and para-athletes returning to training in just over a weeks time.
The updates provided by the first minister today is the first step in our long journey back for the sport in Wales. We will continue to update all our members on the progress, and will be hosting an open webinar for any member or interested party to ask questions and gather additional updates on Thursday.
It goes without saying that everyone involved in the sport wants to see it return as quickly as possible, but its important to manage expectations about the challenges that lay ahead of us, and some aspects of the sport will return sooner than others. We ask all our members to remain patient and continue to engage with Welsh Athletics as we emerge slowly from the restrictions put on us all.
Finally can I ask all members to continue to inform us of any emerging challenges but and also to highlight the amazing innovation that we have seen from the sport during this period. Our clubs play a vital role in the physical and mental health of thousands of individuals across Wales. Our sport is returning gradually, and together we can ensure that it is done in a safe, positive and inclusive way.
Chief Executive Officer, Welsh Athletics