May 27 ------ FIBA, the governing body for basketball, on Tuesday published recommendations on the return of the sport in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. A basketball-specific risk assessment tool has also been produced in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO).
FIBA's guidelines are primarily for national federations that are seeking direction and advice on the restart of basketball activities and competitions. Virtually all sporting events worldwide have been halted since March due to the pandemic. The guidelines and risk assessment tool will serve as a checklist to ensure any decisions on basketball events are based on an assessment of risks and the best chance of a successful restart.
FIBA stressed that their guidelines are "not intended to replace the guidance and restrictions of governments and public health authorities." "This set of guidelines will be very beneficial for the basketball community in their return to our game," said FIBA secretary general Andreas Zagklis. "We all miss our sport being played and as the situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, FIBA remains committed to providing guidance for a safe environment for the 'Return to Basketball'."
The guidelines have been developed by FIBA Medical Commission chairman, Dr. Peter Harcourt of Australia, following his consultation with the FIBA COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group (MAG), and also both the FIBA Medical and Players Commissions. "I have witnessed that FIBA has been working tirelessly to ensure the health and safety of national federations, players, officials and other partners," Harcourt said. "Rest assured that our Medical Commission will keep working and collaborating closely with WHO and will endeavor to assist FIBA to safeguard the basketball community from the current pandemic crisis based on the scientific knowledge."
Among the general guidelines by FIBA is a "phased approach" to the restart process. It also stressed that the national federations must follow the guidance and the lifting of restrictions by their governments and public health authorities. "Above all, the planning group should be aware that at any stage, the restart-up may be required to stop, due to emerging COVID-19 infection issues in sport, venue or wider community," FIBA said. "A clear understanding of the circumstance for a suspension of basketball needs to be considered and prepared for."