COVID-19: The Welfare of Athletes

By Athena Constantinou, Managing Director, APC-Sports Consulting, Nicosia, Cyprus

Athlete welfare entails the creation of a safe environment for athletes in their sporting and personal lives.

Leagues and clubs have a huge role to play in the promotion of the welfare of athletes.

Although more attention has been paid to the physical and mental well-being of athletes during the past decade, as sport has become so much more competitive, with the financial rewards being so much greater, especially in association football (soccer), the need for the sports governing bodies to take into account and ensure safe systems for athletes has increased.

This need has never been greater at the present time with the advent of the COVID-19 Pandemic. To create safe support systems for training and playing is not only a moral requirement and duty owed to athletes, but also a legal one, when athletes are being encouraged once again to participate in sport, as restrictions on such activities are gradually being eased and lifted in various parts of Europe, including the resumption of top-flight  football leagues in Germany and England.

The safety of players and also their families has to be a paramount consideration and  requirement with the introduction of the corresponding protocols agreed by medical and legal experts, in line with governmental regulations, as well as the need for constant testing for the virus, social distancing and, where necessary, isolation, to prevent the spread of the disease.

The same need for safety also applies to sports officials, such as managers, trainers and referees, and also to sports fans.

As far as the latter are concerned, this must necessitate the playing of football and other matches, including rugby, cricket and tennis, behind closed doors – that is, without spectators – for the time being. However, these sporting events will be broadcast on radio and television.

These are indeed unprecedented and challenging times for the sports industry and its stakeholders, as well, of course, for the athletes themselves!

Athena Constantinou may be contacted by e-mail at ‘athena@apc-sport.com’