When can we start training again?

We have been asked the above question a couple of times.

Our thoughts below:

At the moment, all we can do is quote the BJA’s statement (British Judo Association, 2020) published on 13th May:

Following the Government’s latest updates on the current situation, whilst it is clear that certain elements of the lockdown are being relaxed, British Judo still finds itself in an unpredictable scenario whereby we do not know when we can return to our beloved Dojos up and down the country.

It is clear that we cannot return just yet.

It is possible that within a “contained” environment elite athletes may soon be able to return to training and certain sporting events take place behind closed doors. Indeed, a Government document was published 13th May detailing how this could happen. As the BBC reported (Scott, 2020), initial phases will be for contact free training.

The next phase will involve some “social clustering” within training, with athletes able to engage in contact such as “close quarters coaching, combat sports sparring, teams sports tackling, equipment sharing”.

However, the protocols for this stage have not yet been finalised and will need government approval.

It will be interesting to see how this translates to reality – the March 2020 sumo tournament was held behind closed doors with precautions in place, but the May event has been cancelled following Japan’s extension of their state of emergency (AFP, 2020). The sumo community is currently mourning the loss of one of their rikishi due to Covid-19 (BBC, 2020). The UFC recently ran a tournament behind closed doors; however the New York Times reported there were numerous breaches of the protocols it had established in order to make it a safe tournament (Draper, 2020).

We must remain guided by our national association (British Judo Association, 2020):

…we are working hard behind the scenes preparing a detailed strategy and plan that will enable us to return quickly when that time comes. We are working with the Government to ensure that alongside other sports, we are returning to action in a safe and appropriate way as soon as we are able to. Please bear with us whilst we finalise this plan and please note that any premature return to sport will mean that you are notinsured.

For the sake of our sport, it is vital that you wait until the British Judo Association has endorsed the return.

The BJA recognises that how we come back may need to be a phased approach and judo itself may need to change all the time that social distancing remains the norm. They are seeking members’ input into how judo could return, at the web address referenced below.

We cannot see the club returning to the mats before the autumn term. Even if the Government and BJA do sanctioned a return to training, there may still be restrictions imposed by the school over external lettings and any additional cleaning regimes within the school may impact on the hours available to us.

There may be a possibility to run some outdoor fitness sessions (if you aren’t already sick of Joe Wicks style PE…) over the summer. The risks of transmitting the virus outdoors are reduced compared to indoors, and the children and any adults joining in are not as in close contact as they would be practising judo. Social distancing would be easier to enforce. But again we need to be guided by the BJA and the Government.

At the moment really it is still very much a case of wait and see.

Please keep yourselves and others around you safe, and if you haven’t already done so, please consider supporting the club through one of our fundraising initiatives – this will enable us to come back stronger when the time does finally come.

Works Cited

AFP, 2020. Virus forces cancellation of Japan sumo tournament. [Online]
Available at: https://news.yahoo.com/virus-forces-cancellation-japan-sumo-tournament-105537620–spt.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuYmluZy5jb20vbmV3cy9zZWFyY2g_cT1KYXBhbmVzZStTdW1vJnFwdnQ9amFwYW5lc2Urc3VtbyZGT1JNPUVXUkU&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAADrurkG4wkg
[Accessed 14 May 2020].

BBC, 2020. Coronavirus: Japanese sumo wrestler dies at 28. [Online]
Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-52644424
[Accessed 14 May 2020].

British Judo Association, 2020. Input into British Judo’s relaunch strategy. [Online]
Available at: https://www.britishjudo.org.uk/british-judo-relaunch-strategy-input/
[Accessed 14 May 2020].

Draper, K., 2020. U.F.C.’s Coronavirus Plan Is Careful. Its Enforcement Has Been Spotty. [Online]
Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/12/sports/coronavirus-ufc.html
[Accessed 14 May 2020].

Scott, L., 2020. Elite athletes given government guidance on safe return to training during coronavirus. [Online]
Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/52652893?fbclid=IwAR3IFG-PodDEo3zT7bi4OGnzkWC7TpTpeeSPtPO2u2KM9qKjHAzmeEWtsEw
[Accessed 13 May 2020].

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