Elite athlete update (11 December)

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has published guidance to enable national governing bodies to give authorisation to a limited number of athletes, defined as ‘elite’, exemptions from certain restrictions applied to wider society and others participating in community sport.

There is clear instruction from DCMS that the defined list of elite athletes should be kept small and applied to a specific need.  To that end, British Athletics defined ‘elite’ as; 

  • members of the World Class Programme and Futures/Para Futures Development programme
  • athletes who have a current World Athletics or British Athletics Tokyo 2021 qualifying standard or World Athletics Invitation Quota Ranking* or Para athletes that are named on the Tokyo longlist
  • athletes who were selected to represent GB & NI at Doha 2019 or Dubai 2019
  • athletes who achieved 2020 British Athletics European Championships standards in Track & Field events during 2020

In agreement with British Athletics, England Athletics have been able to add:

  • Realistic potential England Commonwealth Games 2022 athletes
  • English athletes identified to compete at the British Indoor Championships allowing qualification for the European Indoors

England Athletics is working through the logistical requirements to extend the current list of Olympic 2021 elite athletes to include these last two groups.  Athletes in the extended list will be contacted directly (target date December 23) and invited to be part of the elite programme.  This will entail a mandatory medical induction, daily health checks and ensuring all training facilities are Covid-19 secure.

There is a wider social responsibility to reduce Covid-19 transmission and therefore we will keep this list and the procedures under review continually.

Any queries regarding this update on elite training should be directed to


Q. What are the governing body’s responsibilities?

Our requirements under the Elite Sport Return to Training guidance are numerous and include:

  • Medical responsibility to lead on the management of suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases
  • Medical oversight of the return to training of athletes with suspected or confirmed Covid-19
  • Ensuring staffing to balance training need, Covid-19 protocols and reduce the risk of increased burden to the NHS
  • Symptom checking, screening and providing an environment in which the risk of transmission is mitigated to meet our duty of care to elite athletes and staff

Q. Can I access anywhere to train if I meet the criteria of an elite athlete?

No. As an elite athlete, you can only access training facilities that are open under the governments Elite Sport Return to Training guidance. England Athletics and British Athletics can provide guidance to facility operators and work with their Covid-19 officers to review their elite athlete training policies if they are considering opening for elite athlete training.  Athletes and coaches should be aware that training venues with elite guidance in place may have limited space at particular times.

Q. If I meet the criteria of an elite athlete, can I bring my training partners to training with me?

No. Unfortunately, unless an athlete satisfies the British Athletics/England Athletics criteria, under the government guidance they cannot be classified as elite so will not be able to access facilities open for elite athlete training.

Q. As an elite athlete, can my coach and/or other members of my support team attend my training?

A. Yes, if they have completed all the required inductions and paperwork and fully comply with all operational guidelines in place.

Q. If I have elite exemption can I train and compete anywhere?

The Government has been clear that it is trying to reduce travel and gathering.  This still applies to elite athletes as much as wider society.  There is an exemption to the wider restrictions, but athletes should ensure all training and competition is absolutely necessary and continue to minimise travel and gatherings in all cases.

Q. If I have not been given a training exemption by British Athletics/England Athletics, how and where can I train (and compete)?

A.Click here for Guidance on non-elite training and competing.