The Standards and Guidelines for Sport as part of the transition and control of COVID-19 in Malta are intended for the sporting associations and athletes who fall under the supervision of SportMalta. They are based on international guidelines and scientific literature, and are in accordance with the guidance issued by the Public Health Authorities. They are intended to keep sport as safe as possible, and are adapted as necessary in accordance with the local current situation, allowing for athletes from a wide number of sports to practice their sport as well as compete, however limiting such activities under controlled conditions.
With the constantly evolving situation with respect to COVID-19 in the community, implementation of COVID-19 restrictions, as well as their gradual relaxation require athletes, staff and other persons concerned to work together to adapt and promote safe sports practices consistent with advice from public health authorities. They must also ensure that venues comply with social distancing and correct hygiene measures that are critical to the success of the transition. Athletes and staff must prevent the transmission of COVID-19 while training and in competition, consistent with updated advice from the public health authorities. The health and safety of the athletes and staff involved is paramount, and the following standards and guidelines are centered on ensuring that this is in no way compromised. The standards and guidelines themselves are subject to change based on the evolving local scenario and are in no way intended to supersede the general guidelines issued by Public Health.
Athletes, staff and others must prepare for the possibility that there may be cases of COVID-19 at the sports venue and be ready to respond appropriately, effectively and efficiently, and consistent with specific recommendations from public health authorities, to help mitigate against any spread.
Current research suggests that the SARSCoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19) is transmitted from person to person:
There is also a possibility that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the COVID-19 virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, and eyes.
Most persons infected with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms and recover. However, some people develop more serious complications and may require hospital care. Risk of serious illness increases with age, for people with weakened immune systems and people with conditions such as diabetes, heart and lung disease.
The risk of person-to-person transmission is increased the closer one comes to other people, the amount of time spent near them, and the number of people one comes near. Physical distancing measures help mitigate this risk. Since the emergence of more contagious virus variants towards the end of 2020, higher transmissibility of the virus has been noted, which is potential threat particularly to contact sports.
The pattern of breathing during strenuous exercise changes such that there is an increase in both the volumes of air that is breathed in and out, and of the number of breaths taken per unit time. As the rate of breathing increases, the potential of spraying out infected droplets from someone who unknowingly has COVID-19 is higher than under normal circumstances, and the greater the distance such droplets can travel, thus the spread might be even more. Research also suggests that due to strenuous exercise, as one breathes deeper, athletes exposed to virus particles would be more likely to inhale such particles and direct them to the lower areas of the lung.
Intense physical exercise in densely populated sports facilities could increase risk for infection.
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