A RETURN to the hardwood edged closer for South Coast Coast hoop heads on Wednesday after Basketball Australia released its return to basketball guidelines, aimed at supporting state and territory member associations and the basketball community across the country in bringing a safe return to the court.
Basketball Australia has worked closely with state and territory associations on these guidelines, which are in line with the Federal Government's national principles for the resumption of sport and the AIS framework for rebooting sport in a COVID-19 environment.
In creating these guidelines, Basketball Australia aims to provide members and the community with clarity on what activities can resume and how best to create a safe training environment depending on the differing levels of restrictions imposed by governments.
Among the possible recommendations for a return to play are no side-by-side games, constant hand sanitising (with all unnecessary contact including 'high fives' outlawed), as few supporters as possible, players and referees to arrive fully dressed to stadium 10 minutes prior to tip-off, specific entry and exit points at venues, extra time between fixtures to minimise congestion and the jump ball to be replaced with 'paper, scissors, rock' for first possession.
Basketball Australia CEO Jerril Rechter said the priority was to protect public health by minimising the risk of community transmission as training restarts, and ahead of organised games and grassroots competitions resuming.
"The release of these return to basketball guidelines marks an important milestone in the much-anticipated resumption of grassroots basketball across Australia," Rechter said
"Basketball is one of Australia's highest participation sports with over 1.5 million active participants and we know the safe return of training will have far-reaching physical, mental and social benefits throughout the basketball community.
"Our priority remains the health and well-being of our community and ensuring we all play our part in stopping the spread of COVID-19, while increasing basketball activities in line with state and federal government restrictions.
"On behalf of Basketball Australia, I like to thank the state and territory associations for their support in devising, and the safe implementation of, these guidelines as we work towards recommencing grassroots competitions."
The principles of the return to basketball guidelines include:
- Provide the basketball community with clarity on what activities may be able to occur at each stage of lifted restrictions.
- Education to all participants about COVID-19 risk mitigation strategies.
- Assessment and preparation of the training and playing environment.
- Assessment of participants prior to the resumption of training and competition.
- Delivery and ongoing management of training and competition including venue management.
These return to basketball guidelines were developed in line with expert advice from Australian Institute of Sport chief medical officer, Dr David Hughes and Basketball Australia chief medical officer, Dr Peter Harcourt.
"The Australian basketball community has demonstrated exemplary behaviour in assisting state and federal governments to stop the spread of COVID-19 and this vigilance will need to continue as we restart basketball activities," Harcourt said.
"The basketball community should take great comfort and confidence from these detailed return to basketball guidelines which have been approved by Sport Australia and will support the safe return of community basketball."
Basketball NSW is currently awaiting a response from the state government on an exemption application, provided 10 days ago.
This includes detailed return to sport guidelines for basketball in NSW which features bio-safety protocols and a handbook for associations and stadiums to be able to implement such guidelines in line with the government public health orders and restrictions.
"Basketball Australia's guiding principles were approved by Sport Australia on Tuesday and we have all been working collectively across the country on the different levels of documents required," a BNSW spokesperson said.
"Our associations have been part of a communications framework, where we have been providing updates since March 16.
"Our association briefings were initially daily and for the last five weeks, they have been weekly - a time span in which we've also had three presidents meetings.
"All updates, from governments and basketball organisations, relevant to COVID-19 are conducted via video conference - we also address all questions on those calls.
"Rolling notes are provided to the associations, so they can update their respective local clubs on any relevant news."
To view these guidelines, visit Basketball Australia - who plan on making further announcements in the coming weeks on the sport's return to play around the country.