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Returning to Sport: Swiss Style

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

Here in Switzerland, clubs have started to practice again and beginning in October, the leagues will return to competition. The clubs and Swiss Basketball are excited to get started up again but it is not without caution and strict safety measures. Each club must assign a COVID representative, who organizes, coordinates and controls that each club, the athletes, and coaches are respecting the hygiene protocols and rules. We have seen a slight drop in turn out as some parents are concerned over the virus and the ability to safely return to sport.

The protocol for practice is as follows: Athletes arrive already changed since the changerooms are closed for use in public-school gyms. When the athletes arrive, they must sanitize their hands. Coaches must track which players are present at each practice. Parents are not allowed to enter the gym unless they have a mask on. During the training coaches are asked to remain 1.5 meters from the athletes and it is advised to wear a mask.

After the practice, each player sanitizes again. We have been asked to vacate the gym 30 minutes before the next group enters. We must open the windows to change the air and sanitize the equipment we have used (balls, cones, etc.) before putting them away. The rules are tough but there is an understanding that if we want to be able to play, we must respect the protocol.

We haven't started games yet but there are also COVID protocols in place for competition. The major one being that all table officials, coaches and players not on the court are obliged to wear a mask since they will not be respecting the 1.5 meters distance rule. That means when a player is substituted, they will be asked to put a mask on when they are on the bench. We will be allowed to have spectators, but the amount is determined by canton and up until September 30, 2020 it is capped at 1000 people. Any spectator over the age of 12 must wear a mask. The spectators must also be able to be tracked so collection of contact information is necessary. As the season progresses the spectator protocols could change because it is constantly being monitored depending on how the situation unfolds.

If any party (coaches, players, referees, table officials etc.) feels sick, they are asked to remain at home. If any party tests positive, it must be announced to Swiss Basketball. The person who tested positive is quarantined for 10 days as well as any party (teammates, opponents, coaches, referees etc.) who was in contact with the positive case. If other parties exhibit no symptoms, they must produce a negative test to return to training, coaching, refereeing. Matches are postponed.

It's understandable to see the long list of protocols and think it won't be possible to return to playing basketball in a safe way or, to be critical of each rule wondering how it helps or why this and not that. However, it is very necessary for us to try our best to follow the rules and keep our athletes safe so that they can continue to develop their skills and play the sport they love. The alternative is no sport but, in my opinion, this could lead to other potential health issues for youth in the future. I think Swiss Basketball, with collaboration of all the clubs, has done a tremendous job putting together, distributing and monitoring these COVID protocols. My hope is that we will be able to have a safe and complete 2020-2021 season!

-Julie Seabrook

Muraltese Basketball, Switzerland

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