Nominees announced for Covid Inspiration Award

Press Release:

Tenacity and determination are some of the traits that propel athletes to greatness. In a year beset by unprecedented challenges, roadblocks and disruptions brought on by the global Covid-19 pandemic, they were also key attributes that drove many event organisers across athletics to meet those challenges and provide competitive opportunities for athletes and entertaining events for fans around the world.

To celebrate those efforts, World Athletics is delighted to announce the nominees for the Covid Inspiration Award, a special honour this year to recognise an individual or group of individuals whose efforts have resulted in the delivery of a particularly inspiring athletics event or experience in 2020.

“Necessity has been the mother of invention for all of us in this pandemic year and we have seen some really creative initiatives and programmes from our athletes and our event organisers, who have had to reinvent their operations and surmount huge obstacles in order to provide competition for our athletes and fans, which is the lifeblood of our sport,” World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said. “We wanted to recognise their enormous resilience and creativity this year by presenting this special award to one of those events that have been exceptionally innovative this year.”

The three nominees, as selected by World Athletics Council Members, are (listed alphabetically):

Herculis EBS Monaco Wanda Diamond League meeting

After a slew of cancellations and postponements that delayed the start of the international season, meeting organisers overcame unprecedented public health and safety concerns, global travel restrictions and painful budget cuts to stage their annual event and finally kick off the interrupted Diamond League season on 14 August, an evening capped by Joshua Cheptegei’s stunning world 5000m record before a crowd of 5000 fans.

In all, 132 athletes – 13 of those reigning world champions – from 36 countries in six federation areas competed across 14 disciplines. Underscoring the quality of the event, 14 world-leading performances were set at the meeting. Of those, 11 remained the year’s best performances at the end of the season.

Ultimate Garden Clash, an original idea by Renaud Lavillenie

A series of three innovative competitions, devised by Renaud Lavillenie and his fellow pole vaulters who presented their idea to World Athletics. The events were held over a five-week period in which athletes faced off via a live video link while competing in their respective training bases.

Organised jointly by the athletes and World Athletics, and broadcast live on its social media platforms, the Ultimate Garden Clash featured separate men’s and women’s pole vault competitions and a triathlon event with three of the world’s best decathletes. The men’s pole vault edition on 3 May between world champion Sam Kendricks, world record-holder Mondo Duplantis and former world record-holder Lavillenie was the world’s first high-level ‘live’ athletics competition since global lockdowns went into effect in March, and attracted more than one million viewers from more than 90 countries in the first 24 hours.

Gdynia 2020 for the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships

The local organising committee in the northern Polish city faced a series of pandemic related challenges throughout the year but never gave up on their dream of hosting a World Championship event, which they did on 17 October in what became the first and only World Athletics Championship held in 2020.

After a postponement from the original March date, the organisers continually adapted to the changing situation, working with World Athletics to design a thorough first-of-its-kind health and safety protocol for the event that ultimately attracted 225 athletes from 54 teams, the second-highest at these championships since the 1998 edition. Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya broke the world record for a women-only race while four championship records, two area records and 21 national records were also set.

The voting process

The winner will be decided by a public vote via the World Athletics Facebook, Twitter and Instagram social media platforms. The combined number of votes from all three platforms will determine the winner. Voting opens on 9 November and closes at midnight on 15 November.

The winner will be announced at the World Athletics Awards 2020 to be held virtually on Saturday 5 December.

A new playbook: COVID-19, athletes’ hearts and return to play

Media Release:

BOSTON – Reports have indicated that COVID-19 may cause heart damage in hospitalized patients with severe cases of the disease, but it’s unclear whether cardiac injury also occurs in infected patients who are asymptomatic or experience only mild symptoms. This question is of particular concern for athletes because myocarditis–inflammation in the heart usually caused by a viral infection–can cause sudden cardiac death during exercise. In a special report published in JAMA Cardiology, a group led by sports cardiologists at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Emory University School of Medicine offers guidance for athletes’ return to play after they have recovered from COVID-19.

The article addresses the most common questions posed by the media, in clinics and athletic training rooms, and during discussions among cardiologists who care for athletes. With a consideration of evolving data, it represents a reassessment of a previous consensus statement by the American College of Cardiology that was published in May.

“This new set of recommendations is based on my and my fellow authors’ clinical experience treating athletes with COVID-19 over the past few months. Our primary objective was to outline an approach that reduced unnecessary testing while simultaneously ensuring we use resources responsibly to detect athletes at increased risk of adverse cardiac events attributable to the virus during their return to sports,” said senior author Aaron Baggish, MD, director of the Cardiovascular Performance Program at MGH.

Baggish and his colleagues have observed that athletes infected with COVID-19 who experienced no or mild symptoms did not exhibit signs of heart injury. For such athletes, they do not recommend detailed cardiac screening. The prevalence of cardiac injury in athletes who were infected with COVID-19 is still unknown, however, and the team believes it’s prudent to screen for heart damage in athletes with moderate to severe symptoms. The experts also note that despite recent small studies showing that cardiac magnetic resonance imaging has detected potential cardiac abnormalities in individuals who have recovered from COVID-19, they feel that current evidence doesn’t justify its use as a universal screening tool for athletes’ return to play.

“We hope the recommendations put forth in the document will assist practitioners in sports medicine, sports cardiology and general cardiology in the evaluation of athletes for return to play after COVID-19 infection,” said lead author Jonathan Kim, MD, MSc, chief of Cardiology Sports at Emory University School of Medicine. “These recommendations are intended to guide the process of determining who requires more detailed cardiac screening and ensure that all athletes post-COVID-19 infection should have a slow and gradual return to training with close monitoring of persistent symptoms, regardless of the severity of infection.”

The paper’s other authors were Benjamin D. Levine, MD, of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas and The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; Dermot Phelan, MD, PhD, of the Sanger Heart and Vascular Institute, Atrium Health, Charlotte, North Carolina; Michael S. Emery, MD, MS, of the Sports Cardiology Center, Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Cleveland Clinic; Mathew W. Martinez, MD, of Morristown Medical Center, Atlantic Health System, Morristown, New Jersey; Eugene H. Chung, MD, MSc, of Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; and Paul D. Thompson, MD of Hartford Hospital in Connecticut.

Return to Sport Following the COVID-19 Pandemic

return to sport

The Australian government has released these ‘National Principles for the resumption of Sport and Recreation activities’. While they are specific to the Australian context, the principle make sense and should be taken on board more globally:

1.Resumption of sport and recreation activities can contribute many health, economic, social and cultural benefits to Australian society emerging from the COVID-19 environment.

2.Resumption of sport and recreation activities should not compromise the health of individuals or the community.

3.Resumption of sport and recreation activities will be based on objective health information to ensure they are conducted safely and do not risk increased COVID-19 local transmission rates.

4.All decisions about resumption of sport and recreation activities must take place with careful reference to these National Principles following close consultation with Federal, State/Territory and/or Local Public Health Authorities, as relevant.

5.The AIS ‘Framework for Rebooting Sport in a COVID-19 Environment’ provides a guide for the reintroduction of sport and recreation in Australia, including high performance sport.The AIS Framework incorporates consideration of the differences between contact and non-contact sport and indoor and outdoor activity. Whilst the three phases A, B and C of the AIS Framework provide a general guide, individual jurisdictions may provide guidance on the timing of introduction of various levels of sport participation with regard to local epidemiology, risk mitigation strategies and public health capacity.

6.International evidence to date is suggestive that outdoor activities are a lower risk setting for COVID-19 transmission. There are no good data on risks of indoor sporting activity but, at this time, the risk is assumed to be greater than for outdoor sporting activity, even with similar mitigation steps taken.

7.All individuals who participate in, and contribute to, sport and recreation will be considered in resumption plans, including those at the high performance/professional level, those at the community competitive level, and those who wish to enjoy passive (non-contact) individual sports and recreation.

8.Resumption of community sport and recreation activity should takeplace in a staged fashion with an initial phase of small group (<10) activities in a non-contact fashion, prior to moving on to a subsequent phase of large group (>10) activities including full contact training/competition in sport. Individual jurisdictions will determine progression through these phases, taking account of local epidemiology, risk mitigation strategies and public health capability.a.This includes the resumption of children’s outdoor sport with strict physical distancing measures for non-sporting attendees such as parents.b.This includes the resumption of outdoor recreational activities including (but not limited to) outdoor-based personal training and boot camps, golf, fishing, bush-walking, swimming, etc.

9.Significantly enhanced risk mitigation (including avoidance and physical distancing) must be applied to all indoor activities associated with outdoor sporting codes (e.g. club rooms, training facilities, gymnasia and the like).

10.For high performance and professional sporting organisations, the regime underpinned in the AIS Framework is considered a minimum baseline standard required to be met before the resumption of training and match play, noting most sports and participants arecurrently operating at level A of the AIS Framework.

11.If sporting organisations are seeking specific exemptions in order to recommence activity, particularly with regard to competitions, they are required to engage with, and where necessary seek approvals from, the respective State/Territory and/or Local Public Health Authorities regarding additional measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread.

12.At all times sport and recreation organisations must respond to the directives of Public Health Authorities. Localised outbreaks may require sporting organisations to again restrict activity and those organisations must be ready to respond accordingly. The detection of a positive COVID-19 case in a sporting or recreation club or organisation will result in a standard public health response, which could include quarantine of a whole team or large group, and close contacts, for the required period.

13.The risks associated with large gatherings are such that, for the foreseeable future, elite sports, if recommenced,should do so in a spectator-free environment with the minimum support staff available to support the competition. Community sport and recreation activities should limit those present to the minimum required to support the participants (e.g. one parent or carer per child if necessary).

14.The sporting environment (training and competition venues) should be assessed to ensure precautions are taken to minimise risk to those participating in sport and those attending sporting events as spectators (where and when permissible).

15.The safety and well-being of the Australian community will be the priority in any further and specific decisions about the resumption of sport, which will be considered by the COVID-19 Sports and Health Committee.