• GB Davis

Spectator Sports Unlikely Before a Vaccine is Available and Testing is Commonplace - 6/1/20

Today, the United States of America Track & Field Association (USATF) released, "Return to Training and Event Hosting Guidance related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) today," relying on USATF’s Working Group of medical, scientific, and industry experts created the Guidance based on regular updates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC), and other U.S. professional sports leagues.


Our View is that this Plan may continue a general working framework for many other professional sports to consider a "Return to Freedom and Greatness".  Further, this may be a framework from which other large social gatherings, such as concerts become norm.  AND this is where this gets very very important: the guidelines require TESTING and temperature checks - so the Orwellian Surveillance State has, in fact, arrived - we now await the milestones to force feed it to the U.S. population - and certainly economic despair and fear are great ways to do that in an advancement of a totalitarian regime - mind you - the same regime whether the Blue or the Red or running the House (FACT).  So, as you read the guidelines, if you care to - think about it in the context of education, specator sports and entertainment - practically, from a time perspective - and then how that may impact a variety of business.

USATF's Guidance takes into account flexibility for local and state authorities and intra-state differences.  Such guidelines default to the most restrictive regulations between State or Municipality.


The Return, features Five (5) Phases, stressing, personal hygiene and social distancing.  DO NOTE THE REQUIRED TESTING FOR COMPETITION AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY ALLOWED TO GATHER AND SPECTATE.

Event Hosting Decision Steps and Criteria STEP 1:  Determine current state government requirements and regulations.  Links to find this information for your state can be found here: https://web.csg.org/covid19/state-covid-19-websites-and-related-resources/ STEP 2: Determine if there are any local or county public health authority notices with restrictions on activities in the community.  Finding this information will differ by location, but normally can be found through your county government webpage. STEP 3:  Using that information, determine the appropriate phase below that applies to your local community:

Phase 1 Public health authorities or local / state government require shelter in place.

Phase 2 Public health authorities or local / state government lift shelter in place requirements but continue to prohibit group activities.

Phase 3 Public health authorities allow small group activities (typically 10 people or less), but most public training facilities remain closed.

Phase 4 Public health authorities allow public training facilities to open with no limitations on group size. A vaccine or cure for COVID-19 is developed (possible future amending to include broad serological testing to confirm immunity in a large segment of the population).

Phase 5 A vaccine or cure for COVID-19 is developed (possible future amending to include broad serological testing to confirm immunity in a large segment of the population). The chart below lists which type of competitive activities are permitted and USATF sanction issuance guidelines.

Phase 1 Public health authorities or local / state government require shelter in place.

Phase 2 Public health authorities or local / state government lift shelter in place requirements but continue to prohibit group activities.

No competitive events of any type are permitted.  USATF sanctions shall not be issued for any event projected to be in Phase 1 or Phase 2 at the time of the event.  If a USATF sanction is issued (e.g., the location is or is projected to be Phase 3 or higher at the time of issuance), but the location of the event continues to be or reverts to Phase 1 or Phase 2 as of the date of the event, the USATF sanction will be void.

Phase 3

Public health authorities allow small group activities (typically 10 people or less), but most public training facilities remain closed. With permission from local health authorities and agreement with an appropriate venue, “micro-events” consisting of no more than 10 people (including officials) can be considered for sanction.  Additional criteria include (but not limited to):  no more than 10 individuals present in the facility at any one time (separate sessions can be scheduled to keep the facility occupancy at less than 10 individuals), all events must meet the Low Risk stratification from the table in STEP 4 below and the “micro-event” must utilize the Low Risk minimum criteria for screening.  Additionally, it is strongly recommended that all participants meet the Additional Criteria for All Participants.  USATF may also require additional criteria for sanctioning.  


Continue to STEP 4 below. Phase 4

Public health authorities allow public training facilities to open with no limitations on group size. A vaccine or cure for COVID-19 is developed (possible future amending to include broad serological testing to confirm immunity in a large segment of the population). Competition can be considered for sanction.  Continue to STEP 4 below.


Phase 5A vaccine or cure for COVID-19 is developed (possible future amending to include broad serological testing to confirm immunity in a large segment of the population). Meet can be sanctioned following normal USATF procedures.  STEP 4:  Determine the risk stratification level (Low Risk, Moderate Risk, High Risk) for your event, described in the section below.

Risk Stratification for Specific Events The USATF COVID-19 Working Group, following the USOPC Sports Event Planning Recommendations, categorizes various events as being low riskmoderate risk, or high risk, based on select criteria that stratify the risk of infection transmission.  This Risk Stratification category is important, as it defines the restrictions and criteria necessary to hold select events (e.g., distance races where potential contact is higher, versus sprint events run entirely in lanes but in close proximity, versus field events where social distancing can be maintained).

The above risk stratification applies to competitors.  All officials, coaches, and event staff would be considered in the Low Risk category for participation, as long as their duties allow for proper social distancing and no contact with athlete-touched equipment (or minimal contact with proper PPE) – otherwise, those individuals would fall in the Moderate Risk category.  Spectators, media, and vendors would be considered in the Low Risk category, as long as a social distancing plan is available for their specific areas of the venue.  However, additional criteria (including age and health status restrictions) will apply to officials, coaches, meet staff, and spectators for access / admission to the event (described in STEP 5).


STEP 5:  utilize the chart below to determine the specific criteria that must be utilized to screen participants and event attendees, based on whether the specific event (or competitors / officials in select events within a competition) is considered Low Risk or Moderate Risk. 

Additional resources for following this criterion can be found in Appendix 2.

USOPC Infection transmission risk stratification scale

Criteria for entry to facility and participation

Low Risk REQUIRED MINIMUM Criteria

Daily survey to confirm (self-reporting) no signs or symptoms of COVID-19 in past 7 days (OR at least 7 days from onset of any COVID-19 infection signs or symptoms AND at least 72 hours since signs / symptoms have resolved).

Daily survey to confirm no close sustained contact with anyone who is sick within 14 days of the event.  

Daily survey to confirm no travel within 14 days of the event to an international location with widespread ongoing COVID-19 transmission as determined by the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/map-and-travel-notices.html) or travel on a cruise ship or river boat.Competitors who have had a documented case of COVID-19 must have written letter from physician indicating they are cleared to compete.Daily temperature check on entrance to the competition facility / area confirming temperature < 100.4 F (38.0 C).


Low Risk

ADDITIONAL PREFERRED Criteria (if available)

Two negative COVID-19 tests separated by 24h, performed the week of the event.*

*Two tests required if specificity/sensitivity rates of tests remain as they are now.  With improvement, could be reduced to one test.

OR COVID-19 specific serology demonstrating prior infection (i.e., presence of IgG antibodies), but no current infection (i.e., lack of IgM antibodies).


Moderate Risk 

REQUIRED MINIMUM Criteria

All of the above criteria (minimum and preferred) listed in the Low Risk stratification (i.e., daily survey and temperature checks, negative COVID-19 testing or confirmed antibody test results).


Additional Criteria for All Participants

(Advisory given to participant upon entry)It is strongly recommended that individuals considered by the CDC to be “at-risk” not participate in the sanctioned event in any capacity.  This would include: 

  • individuals over the age of 65

  • individuals who live in nursing homes

  • individuals with underlying medical conditions, noted by the CDC, which place them at higher risk, such as chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, diabetes, serious heart conditions, severe obesity (BMI > 40), chronic kidney or liver disease, and individuals who are immunocompromised or live with someone who is immunocompromised.

If these “at-risk” individuals choose to participate, it is recommended that they get clearance from their healthcare provider.


STEP 6:  Determine which support personnel will be allowed access to the facility or event area. 


Criteria for Admission to the Event

Event participants should be grouped into tiers for access to the event.  The decision to allow for admission should be based partly on the ability of the meet staff to complete the minimum screening required. 


Tier 1 (essential):  Athletes, coaches, officials, event staff (minimal), medical staff, security, anti-doping officials.  Allowed if meet the Low Risk required minimum criteria & Additional Criteria for All Participants in the chart above from STEP 5.  Moderate Risk event athletes and officials / meet staff whose duties place them in the Moderate Risk category must meet the Moderate Risk required minimum criteria.  Additionally, it is strongly recommended that those Moderate Risk event athletes and officials/meet staff also meet the Additional Criteria for All Participants to participate.


Tier 2 (preferred):  Media, volunteers (minimal), recovery staff (e.g. massage therapists).  Allowed only if meet Low Risk required minimum criteria AND the burden of screening can be handled within the existing meet logistics. Additionally, it is strongly recommended that you follow the Additional Criteria for All Participants above


Tier 3 (non-essential):  Spectators, vendors.  Allowed only if meet Low Risk required minimum criteria AND the burden of screening can be handled within the existing meet logistics.  However, it is recommended that events strongly consider not allowing Tier 3 individuals with the current COVID-19 situation.  Additionally, it is strongly recommended that you follow the Additional Criteria for All Participants above.


STEP 7:  All sanctioned events must complete a detailed Medical Response Plan that is approved by the local public health authority.




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