Framework to Guide Progression Towards A Resumption Of Sport And Physical Recreation in NI.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How is elite athlete defined?

A: Elite athlete is clearly defined in the public Health regulations.

“Elite athlete” means an individual who meets one of the following criteria —

(i)            derives a living from competing in a sport,

(ii)           plays in a professional league or competition,

(iii)          is a senior representative nominated by a relevant sporting body,

(iv)         is a member of the senior training squad for a relevant sporting body, or

(v)          is aged 16 or above and on an elite development pathway.

For the purposes of the definition of “elite athlete”—

(a) “elite development pathway” means a development pathway established by the national governing body of a sport to prepare athletes—

(i) so that they may derive a living from competing in that sport, or

(ii) to compete at that sport at the Tokyo Olympic or Paralympic Games, or, if that sport is not part of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games programme, in the Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham;

(b) “relevant sporting body” means the national governing body of a sport which may nominate athletes to represent—

(i) Great Britain and Northern Ireland or Ireland at the Tokyo or Beijing Olympic or Paralympic Games, or

(ii) England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man at the Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham in those sports which are not part of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games programme;

(c) “Senior representative” means an individual who is considered by a relevant sporting body to be a candidate to qualify to compete on behalf of—

(i) Great Britain and Northern Ireland or Ireland at the Tokyo Olympic or Paralympic Games;

(ii) England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man at the Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham in those sports which are not part of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games programme”.

(iii) Northern Ireland at European and World Championships.

Q:  Can sport continue?

A:  Indoor and outdoor sport is not permitted, other than at elite level. Elite sporting events must be held behind closed doors without spectators.

Q:  Are gyms, swimming pools, dance studios and other leisure facilities required to close?

A:  All sports facilities such as leisure centres and gyms, swimming pools, tennis courts, fitness and dance studios must close.

Q: Can parks, outdoor gyms, multi-use games areas, sports pitches and play areas remain open?

A:  Public parks and play areas will remain open, but outdoor sports facilities will be closed.

Q: Can outdoor fitness classes or coaching sessions take place if there are fewer than 15 people?

A: No, only individual or household outdoor exercise is permitted.

Q: Can golf courses remain open?

A:  No, golf courses must close.

Q: Can people walk or take exercise with other people not from their own household?

A: No, only individual or household exercise is permitted.

Q: Can theoretical elements of coach education courses take place indoors?

A: Yes, with a maximum of 15 people socially distanced. This should be done virtually if possible.

Q: Can PE continue in schools and can sports deliver after schools sessions?

A:  Yes, PE delivered by or for a school can continue. The Department of Education can offer guidance in respect of after-school sport.

Q: I have return to play/ sport protocols for my sport or club. Can I get approved guidance on them?

A: Yes, please send your return to play/ sport guidance to returntosport@sportni.net

Q:  Can I continue to fish individually?

A: Yes, whilst competitions may not resume, recreational angling may continue as long as it is individual or household

Q: Can you advise on a competition or training event being held after the current regulations?

A: No, unfortunately we cannot provide guidance on competitions or events that may be held after the current restrictions. Until the new guidelines are released by the executive, we are unable to provide any official guidance.  

Q: What guidance exists on carrying out Risk Assessments?

A: Risk Assessments A risk assessment is a suitable and sufficient assessment, by an organiser, of risks to the health and safety of their employees and of any other persons arising out of or in connection with the conduct by them of an event, for the purpose of identifying the preventive and protective measures they may reasonably take to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus. A risk assessment shall be by the person who makes it if— a) there is reason to suspect that it is no longer valid; or b) there has been a significant change in the matters to which it relates. In relation to employees under the age of 18, the organiser’s risk assessment must take account of their inexperience, lack of awareness of risks and immaturity.

Preventive and protective measures are to be based on these principles: · avoiding risks; · evaluating risks which cannot be avoided; · combating risks at source; · adapting to technical progress; · replacing the dangerous by the non-dangerous or the less dangerous; · giving collective protective measures priority over individual protective measures; and · giving appropriate instructions.

In summary a risk assessment consists of Identification of the risks which may contribute to transmission of the coronavirus; Identification of the measures needed to limit those risks by eliminating them where possible and minimising them as far as is reasonable where elimination is not possible.

Q: What is the latest guidance on face coverings indoors?

A: It is strongly recommended that a face covering is worn in all indoor public settings including those enclosed indoor areas and premises that are currently exempt and where social distancing of 2m or more cannot be maintained consistently. However note the exemption below:

Places and premises where the Face Coverings Regulations explicitly do not require face coverings to be mandatory:

g) in a place where aerobic exercise is the primary purpose of attendance.

Q: What Stage are we at in the Sport NI Framework?

A: The Executive has not been making announcements which directly align to the Framework. We have therefore decided to no longer reference the relaxations of restrictions in terms of the Framework, but will still give meaningful guidance based on how Department of Health guidelines translate into the Sporting environment.

Q: Can we get our Protocols Reviewed by The Expert Group?

A: Yes . While the Governing Body is responsible for the content of any individual sport’s protocols, you may wish to submit a draft for feedback. If you email them to returntosport@sportni.net ,we will submit them . The Group has limited capacity at present and it may take time to get feedback on the protocols.

Q: Can we conduct education/instruction sessions and/or committee meetings indoors?:

A; At present this is not permitted in the Department of Health Guidelines .

Q: Can Sport NI advise me on the content of protocols?

A: In the first instance its best to refer to your Governing Body who should by now have protocols in place. If you are drawing up protocols please refer to the Sport NI guidance at this LINK. We will do our best to advise on any issues not covered off within the NGB material. Reference to the current Department of Health Guidelines is also recommended.

Q: Can Sport NI help us fund equipment to deal with Covid-19 e.g. Sanitising equipment?

A : Where sports clubs are struggling with the financial impact of Coronavirus, the Sports Hardship Fund is the current channel available for funding. This covers rent, utility costs, ground maintenance or insurance. Other funding opportunities may become available in the coming months and will be publicised if approved.

Q: Will Sport NI be announcing further relaxations ?

A: Decisions on Coronavirus Restrictions are made by the Executive, following consultation with the Department of Health. Sport NI do not announce relaxations; we translate the relaxations into meaningful guidance to the various categories of sport, working with the Department for Communities.

Q Where can I get advice on reopening my small sports club/facility?

A In the first instance please consult your Governing Body’s website. You may also wish to reference the Sport NI Guidance on Reopening Sports facilities for further assistance..

Q:        Can Clubs or individual athletes/participants raise queries on the return to sport directly with Sport NI ?

A:        No –all enquiries must go directly to the sport’s Governing Body first and if unresolved can then be passed to Sport NI via the generic email address.

Q:        Can a Sport use time lines associated with their NGB in the UK or Ireland ?

A:       No. Sports must adhere to timelines set by the NI Executive

Q:        Who is responsible for the protocols a sport produces ?

A:        The National Governing Body of the Sport is responsible for the framework the Sport is implementing across participants.

Q:        How can Sport NI further support the Return to Sport?

A:        Sport NI has operated a Return to Sport Inbox service staffed by a dedicated team since late May. Almost 700 separate enquiries have been dealt with since then. We are working closely with the Sports Branch of the Department for Communities to feedback themes identified within these enquiries and anticipate emerging issues. Where appropriate these are also referred to the Expert Group for input.

Q:        Can Sport NI put our framework on their website ?

A:        Sports should promote their protocols via their own website / social media platforms

Q:        Can a Sport “sound out” proposals via existing contacts in Sport NI ?

A:        In order to ensure consistency of response, all queries regarding the framework must be submitted via the returntosport@sportni.net. email address. We will aim to provide a full response within 48 hrs.