World Athletics forms Outbreak Prevention Taskforce

MONACO: World Athletics has joined forces with the International Institute for Race Medicine (IIRM) to set up a medical taskforce to provide endurance events that include mass gatherings with guidelines for outbreak prevention.

The Outbreak Prevention Taskforce, led by World Athletics (Health and Science Department) and the IIRM, will include the Medical Chairs or representatives of the International Cycling Union (UCI), International Ski Federation (FIS), International Triathlon Union (ITU), International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and World Rowing (FISA), as well as Professor Brian McCloskey of the Centre on Global Health Security, Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), an independent expert in outbreak prevention and member of the WHO Novel Coronavirus-19 Mass Gatherings Expert Group.

The taskforce will also be served by an advisory group, which will include representatives of industry, private companies, sponsors, partners, and media.

“We are forming this taskforce to bring together key representatives from all parts of the endurance sports world to help find solutions and create viable and appropriate guidelines for participants of mass sports events, event staff, volunteers, and the community at large. COVID-19 has been the stimulus for the formation of this taskforce, however, many event organisers have also had to deal with Norovirus and other contagious diseases during the staging of events and this taskforce will help create guidelines to help reduce the risk of infection,” said Dr Stephane Bermon, director of the Health and Science Department at World Athletics.

The Outbreak Prevention Taskforce has developed the following objectives:
Disseminate recommendations to prevent disease outbreaks in mass gatherings
Provide race organisers and sport governing bodies with guidelines, including a risk assessment tool dedicated to determining the outbreak risk, mitigation plans, and suggestions of contingency plans
Advise mass races, organisers, and sport governing bodies on how to plan a return to normal activities in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak or similar future situations.
Collect and analyse data to determine if COVID-19 survivors have increased risk of developing illness or injury when participating in endurance events and/or vigorous activity and amend best practices based on this analysis.

“This expert global taskforce is made up of medical professionals from the leading endurance sports who are qualified to discuss and address health and safety in staging mass participation endurance events once the current pandemic begins to wane,” said John Cianca MD, IIRM Board Chair.

The Outbreak Prevention Taskforce will hold its first meeting during the week of 20th of April with the aim of producing guidelines as soon as reasonably possible.