Sun, 12 Jul 2020

Professional sport in Britain moved closer to a resumption when the government published 'stage two' of its guidance allowing for close-contact and competitive training.

The advice is the next step in a process set to culminate with 'stage three' that should see the likes of English football's Premier League returning, albeit behind closed doors, next month after the coronavirus saw the season suspended.

While stressing the need for carefully controlled medical conditions, the latest guidance makes clear that professional athletes can receive close quarters training, with those involved in team sports such as football allowed to tackle as they build up their match fitness.

"This new guidance marks the latest phase of a carefully phased return to training process for elite athletes, designed to limit the risk of injury and protect the health and safety of all involved," said Britain's sports minister, Nigel Huddleston.

"We are absolutely clear that individual sports must review whether they have the appropriate carefully controlled medical conditions in place before they can proceed, and secure the confidence of athletes, coaches and support staff."

Premier League football clubs resumed non-contact training last week while, in cricket, England bowlers took part in solo net sessions.

But the likes of Watford captain Troy Deeney and Chelsea's N'Golo Kante, have both cited health concerns as a reason for why they have yet to return to training.

The first stage of the government's guidance, which outlined the conditions needed for an initial return to training subject to social-distancing rules, was published on 13 May.

Those rules will still apply in respect of travelling to training, with equipment-sharing to be avoided where at all possible.

Meanwhile, communal areas such as changing rooms are expected to remain closed for the most part.

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