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Motorsport Australia announced on 18 August 2020 that all State and National motorsport events scheduled to take place in NSW from 19 August 2020 would no longer take place. The tougher measures seem contrary to COVID-19 case numbers across the state that have dropped back to single digit cases throughout recent days.
Whilst there has been some confusion as to why motorsport had been apparently called out it appears that the sport has become an unfortunate victim to the fallout from unrelated events.
It is Velocity Magazine’s understanding that these measures are across all community based sports which operate across zones, regions or areas. The measures have been introduced to reduce the potential transmission of the virus across communities.
The official advice from the Chief Health Officer for NSW, Dr Kerry Chant, stated that the revised measures were put in place in response to the “Increased cases of COVID-19 in NSW,” and, in particular, to the “Risk of COVID-19 transmission related to participation in community sports.” The measures have been implemented to ensure that the NSW Government’s target for “No community transmission in NSW,” will be met.
There has been an alarming increase in the number of school aged children who have tested positive for the virus over the past two weeks, with more than 21 cases alone linked to the Tangara School for Girls in Sydney’s North West. The increasing number of reported cases involving children has seen the temporary closure of schools across the Sydney Metropolitan Area and has led to the introduction of “Minimising the risk of COVID-19 transmission in community sports” response.
In addition to the reinforcement of the need for sporting organisations to prepare and implement a compliant COVID-19 Safety Plan, the following measures have been added for an expected six week period to commence on August 19th 2020:
– Cease activities that result in the mixing of participants and staff from different regions,
for example by ceasing zone, regional or state championships or competitions1
– Cease any activities that result in overnight stays (e.g. multi-day training camps) due to
increased risk of COVID transmission in residential-type settings with shared facilities
– Cease face-to-face social activities relating to community sports (e.g. award ceremonies,
end-of-season social gatherings, post-training group dinners)
– Avoid carpools or bus travel with people from different household groups where possible
– For local activities, limit spectators to one parent only, where the child requires parental
supervision during the sporting activity.
News services across the city announced these changes this morning, highlighting that the changes were made in response to the recent number of student cases and the circumstances surrounding the transmission of the virus. While the intent may have been to reduce school based transmission, the revised measures have made the running of upcoming motorsport events untenable.
While meetings had been held across two days, categories were split over the course of the weekend as single day events. This format largely avoided the need for overnight accommodation, which is in line with the new restrictions. Conversely, the ban on competition across regions, zones or areas presented major issues for motorsport, with competitors situated across the Metropolitan area and throughout a number of regional districts.
The restrictions were initially listed without a time frame. This cast some doubt on the running of the 2020 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, which had seen the sale of entry ticket and camping ground permits suspended. An updated release eased such fears with the measures expected to ease within the next six weeks. If correct, restrictions would be lifted approximately ten days prior to the commencement of the race week in early October. Rumours of a possible date change for the 2020 race are seemingly unrelated to yesterday’s announcement by the NSW Chief Health Officer.
Other sports, such as the NRL and A-league are unaffected by the move as they hold individual agreements with the various State government and operate within isolated bubbles with heightened biosecurity measures already in place.
In the meantime, NSW must rely on a television or device for their motorsport fix and the ‘new normal’ and ‘fluidity’ continue to circle throughout the motorsport community.
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