Update on competition (and training) planning 2020
England Athletics position as of 4 May 2020 (subject to change based on further planning and UK government updates in relation to Covid-19)
A message from Martin Rush – Head of Coaching & Athlete Development (England Athletics):
England Athletics are acutely aware of the desire for information about the potential competition season for track and field this year, as well as any return to club training prior to that. To this end, we are working in partnership with British Athletics and the other Home Countries to provide guidance about how we potentially transition back to activity and maybe a shortened competition season. In saying this, we recognise that the situation is constantly changing and government guidance is being updated regularly. Any return to activity and competition will take into account all government messaging with the aim that we maintain the safety and wellbeing of the athletics and wider community as our primary goal. It is really important to emphasise that this is not a starting gun for track and field training to take place. The current government exercise guidelines are clear and England Athletics and the other Home Countries support this messaging – click here for the latest guidance updates.
The focus of this piece and connected video (at the bottom of this page) is competition, but we know that prior to competition restarting in any form, club training and facility opening will have to occur. Our planning has taken this into account. England Athletics plans to release guidance and information on a potential return to activity, based on information we get from the government.
The competition framework that England Athletics has created should be seen as scenario 1 and is just the beginning of a series of guidance documents and messages that will be produced as more information is available.
Our starting point has been
- We will follow all government guidelines on any transition back to activity, with the aim of ensuring the continued safety and wellbeing of the athletics and wider community.
- We will work in partnership with competition and facility providers to ensure all activities are safe and have the wellbeing of individuals at their core.
- We will need to provide training time for athletes before competition and time for facilities/competition providers to manage any social distancing requirements and safety checks that they may have to implement.
- We will have a limited number of weeks for training and competition and we want to provide exciting events and a variety of competition appropriate for all levels of the sport and all ages, if at all possible.
- We may need to be innovative around certain events or types of events within athletics if restrictions on social distancing remain and we will produce guidance and work with providers to mitigate risk and enable competition within any government guidelines.
- We will plan for local competition prior to any regional or national level competition. If the situation arises that only a very limited window of track and field competition can take place, we will consider other scenarios and encourage clubs to lead local activity.
- We will aim to coordinate all track and field fixtures to reduce pressure on key support groups, for example officials, and we will work in partnership to allow this to happen.
- With specific consideration to officials, we are continually talking to officials to take on board their views and understanding the challenges we may face in terms of availability of officials. In any competitions planning, the safety of our officials will be of utmost importance. Within this planning, there may be an opportunity to bring new people into the officiating family (eg. parents) , perhaps with a focus around enabling U11/U13 level competition, and we will seek to provide guidance on this.
- We will Integrate para competition where possible, especially at a regional level upwards.
This is all going to take coordination and collaboration, to meet the needs of athletes, clubs and competition providers. We have a great sport that is incredibly diverse and broad in its appeal and provision. Let’s take this opportunity to try out some new forms of delivery, we may have to, to remain within social distancing requirements, but also look to established formats that we know work well.
Scenario 1 envisages competition starting in mid-July allowing for a number of weeks of training and organisation prior to this and continuing through to the of September. Although there is allocation on certain weekends for specific levels of competition it is the competition provider who will have to determine whether they hold that competition and in what form. We would encourage clubs to work with county associations and other competition providers to coordinate activity. This is a framework to assist with that coordination and structure. It is also scenario planning, with the aim of giving everyone an idea of the planning process we are undertaking should any restrictions enable us to hold training and competition. We will work on other scenarios as more information becomes available. The framework invites competition providers to deliver against certain week numbers. We have entered potential dates against these week numbers to simply give an example as to what could happen if activity resumed towards the end of June.
- U11 Multi-event Within club, multi-event team-based formats with relays. EA will provide a potential format and resources where needed
- U13 Within club and between clubs, multi-event team-based formats with relays and standard competitions
- U15 to Senior: County Open Festivals (Short programme meets performance graded), Inter Club, County Champs, Event specific formats | Regional and Area level competition; Inter Club, one day meets or timetables that enable one day competition, event specific | National level competition; Inter Club, event specific, one day meets.
It is our wish, and I am sure all the athletics community’s wish, that competition is possible through the end of summer and into the autumn period. If, however, the government restrictions continue or a release in a phased manner is planned, then we will review Scenario 1, and release our thoughts.
If you have any thoughts, considerations or feedback that you would like to raise with regard to the above update then we welcome this – please scroll down and use the online comments form at the bottom of this page.
Stay safe and well and I look forward to seeing people at various track and field competitions around England sometime in 2020!
Head of Coaching and Athlete Development
Click below to watch the video message from Martin Rush (recorded 1 May 2020):
Please use the following form to send us any comments or feedback in relation to competitions and training planning: