Covid-19: France plans gradual sporting return

Young French women playing rugby. France has recently outlined a phased return for sports training as the country emerges from lockdown.
Government guidelines have been established to allow a "carefully phased return to training" for team and combat sports.

Sports Ministry publishes guidelines for a 'phased return to training' in football, rugby, basketball and combat sports.

The French government has published guidelines allowing a "carefully phased return to training" for team and combat sports as the country continues to carefully move away from confinement due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Individual exercise has been permitted, under strict regulations, throughout the confinement period, but since lockdown rules were eased on May 11, sportspeople of all levels have been waiting for updates on when they can resume activities such as football, basketball, rugby and combat sports.

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The guidelines, produced in collaboration with sports authorities, will detail "exercises, games, activities compatible with current health rules", with Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu determined that a return to sporting activity will not lead to a spike in cases of the disease.

A gradual return to sport is recommended for all amateurs and professionals. Those who stopped exercising altogether during confinement are advised to consult their doctor before resuming any activity, while a medical consultation is described as 'essential' for anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19 before they resume any sporting activity.

What are the government guidelines for playing sport in France during deconfinement?

Football

A gradual return to full training is outlined. The document lists technical exercises - passing, shooting, ball control - that should be prioritised.

The plan of the Ministry and the Fédération Française de Football then outlines a four-step recovery. After a return to group sessions by age category and in compliance with health measures, the next phase will authorise training courses in the clubs to combine sport and study.

Authorities then plan to launch the 2020-21 season for all adults at national and regional levels and then for young people. The final stage will involve the reopening of football schools.

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Rugby

As with football, technical exercises, with and without a ball, in small groups will lead the resumption of rugby training.

The second stage will include touch rugby involving teams of five, before a resumption of contact training. Friendly matches can follow, ahead of a hoped-for return to competition.

A third stage will allow a resumption of classic training, with contacts before setting up friendly matches between clubs to encourage a return to competition.

Basketball

No indoor basketball will be allowed in the first instance, but training sessions of no more than 10 people - including coaches - can resume outdoors.

Changing rooms will not be accessible and players should avoid close contact and running.

After a first stage of re-athletisation, a second stage will involve forms of play without crossing players within two metres. Finally, the third and last stage, once authorised by the Ministry will allow a return to normal three vs three or five vs five activities.

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Combat sports

The protocols put in place by various federations, and published in the Sports Ministry's document, begin with gradual fitness work followed by individual skills training.

That will be followed by "shadow" training, before a progressive resumption of confrontations between fighters of the same age and weight category.

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