Coronavirus: Back to the grind for some athletes

When the circuit breaker measures took effect on April 7, Olympics-bound national athletes were forced to relook their training plans following the closure of sports facilities such as stadiums, sports halls and swimming pools.

As a result, most had to train in the confines of their homes during the period.

Yesterday, about 30 athletes across 10 sports were handed a boost when national sport agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) announced that those who have qualified or are close to qualifying for next year’s Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be allowed to resume training “under controlled conditions” at selected venues from today following the end of the circuit breaker period.

Swimmers Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen, diver Jonathan Chan and gymnast Tan Sze En have earned their spots at the quadrennial Games while Singapore will also be represented in sailing, shooting and table tennis.

The other sports are para-archery, badminton, para-cycling, fencing and para-swimming.

Shuttlers Loh Kean Yew and Yeo Jia Min are 16th and 17th respectively on the men’s and women’s Race to Tokyo list and on track to qualify for the Games as one of the top 38 players in their field.

On being able to train on court again, Yeo said: “I’m really happy because it means that the virus situation in Singapore is getting better now and I hope it will continue to get better so everyone else can resume soon.

“I’m also excited to see what effects two months of training at home would have on me when I resume (training).”

Hao Anlin, coach of the national women’s table tennis team, also welcomed the news.

But he noted that the team, who qualified for the Olympics in January, did not waste any time during the circuit breaker because they worked on strength and conditioning exercises on a daily basis online and analysed individual performances through videos.

“We are looking forward to going back to training,” he said. “Now that the Tokyo Olympics has been postponed, this gives our athletes a lot more time to prepare for the Games.

“(Today) we will be starting our training session and we will increase the training workload as time goes by in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics.”

As Singapore enters Phase 1 of the post-circuit breaker period, SportSG said it would “ensure the implementation of safe management measures at designated training venues to ensure the safety of athletes, training personnel and the community”.

The protocols entail maintaining a safe distance between individuals, temperature taking and observing contact tracing procedures through the use of the SafeEntry digital check-in system and the TraceTogether app.

Those who go to the training venues must wear masks when not engaged in strenuous activities and a maximum of five people, inclusive of coaches and specialists, will be allowed in at any time.

Socialising or group meals before, during or after training are not permitted while those who are unwell, on stay-home notice or quarantine order will not be allowed entry into the venues.

Some national sports associations (NSAs) already have plans in place for when training resumes.

For instance, the Singapore Swimming Association has marked out a specific route for athletes to enter and exit the Singapore Sports Hub’s OCBC Aquatic Centre to ensure that there is no interaction between individuals.

Swimmers will be required to train in alternate lanes and have to arrive in their swimming costumes. They will also not be allowed to shower at the facility.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which were scheduled to be held from July 24-Aug 9 and Aug 25-Sept 6 respectively, have been postponed to next year in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Olympics will now take place from July 23-Aug 8, while the Paralympics’ new dates are from Aug 24-Sept 5.

Additional reporting by David Lee

Safety protocols

Sport Singapore has put in place strict safe management measures at designated training venues “to ensure the safety and well-being of athletes and coaches” when it gave the green light for about 30 Olympics-bound athletes to resume training from today.

These include:

• Safe distancing

• Temperature taking

• Contact tracing (usage of SafeEntry digital check-in system at training venues and the TraceTogether app)

• Wearing of masks when not engaged in strenuous activities

• Limit on number of persons (inclusive of coaches and specialists) at any venue to five at any time

• Athletes are not allowed to socialise or gather for meals before, during or after training

• Those unwell, on stay-home notice or quarantined order are barred from entering training venues.

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