Close-contact training across a whole raft of elite sports moved a step nearer after the government published guidelines on how to do it safely. Matches behind closed doors are permissible from June 1 but plans outlined on May 13 initially dealt only with the initial stages of returning to practice.
Now sports minister Nigel Huddleston believes that players and coaches can begin to start ramping things up again to get back to 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,” he said.
“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.
“Given the wide ranging input we have received from medical experts, we believe these pragmatic measures should provide further reassurance that a safe, competitive training environment can be delivered, as we work towards a restart of professional sport behind closed doors when it is safe to do so.”
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It means that as well as football’s high-profile Project Restart, other sports can start to introduce close-quarters coaching and tackling in team sports.
The final decision to adopt these government protocols will be the responsibility of the respective sports bodies and clubs, in consultation with athletes, coaches and support staff.
A lot has been made of Premier League action returning, with Crystal Palace star Andros Townsend saying players need to be more trustworthy if contact training is to be introduced.
Any rebels, the Crystal Palace winger said, will be letting down their team-mates.
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