Otago sports groups to co-operate on cautious return to playing

Otago sporting organisations are banding together to have a co-ordinated return to the playing field and any thoughts of pulling the boots on in a couple of weeks should be binned.

Sport organisations from throughout Otago met in a conference call yesterday to try to navigate the way ahead to a return to playing sport.

In what was something of a surprise, community sport was given the go-ahead to take place under Alert Level 2, although it was not yet clear when that alert level would be reached. Sport Otago business development manager Michael Smith said it was a good meeting with plenty of worthwhile contributions.

But what had become clear was it was going to take time to work through all the issues of returning to sport.

Any thoughts of getting straight back on to the field or court as soon as Level 2 was introduced should be quickly forgotten.

There was going to be a lot of work to do before sport came on, especially around contact tracing and cleaning. Clubs should look at following the process that would be set out in the next few days.

He said clubs should not try to book grounds and look at training at this stage. The risk still existed and it would take a combined and co-ordinated approach by all sports to get on the field.

All sports were aware of how keen many competitors were to return but they had to wait for issues to be worked through.

Otago Rugby Football Union general manager Richard Kinley said it was great that sport would be back in action at Level 2 but there was a lot of work to do.

There needed to be clarity around many issues — what did a gathering entail and how could it be controlled? Whether games being played on grounds beside each other were classed as one gathering, including players, was one question, along with how access to grounds would be enforced.

He said NZ Rugby had been working on the issue for a while and was looking to issue guidelines next week for clubs. Councils were looking for good robust plans before getting teams on fields. Technology should come to their aid.

The Edgar Centre is a large building, even before the More FM Arena is included, and 100 people — the limit on gatherings — could be very spread out. The centre might look at creating separate zones within the building.

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