A Sports Practitioner’s Perspective on the Return to Play During the Early Months of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned and Next Steps


September 2021


With high profile events such as sporting and mass gathering events, recent history has revealed the importance of developing incident command structures to streamline communication, maximize coordination and establish contingencies. With the advent of COVID-19, a virus with significant human-to-human transmission and the potential for super-spreader events, there has been a brief universal cessation of sports, and the main question now is how to return to play in a way that keeps our athletes and general population healthy. This review aims to describe the core principles regarding return to play using a focus on incident command centers and disaster management. These principles include appropriate hygiene and social distancing, use of masks, rigorous monitoring and screening of symptoms, widespread testing, comprehensive contact tracing and considerations for travel and facilities. In addition, organizations need to have established scalable protocols for athletes who do contract the virus with symptom-based algorithms for length of time away from play and with screening for cardiac and pulmonary complications from COVID-19. Also, encouraging our athletes to become immunized against the virus and educating our athletes about nutrition and the relation to immune health is important as we return to play.

Sports Med (2021)