World Players Association to be Guided by Science on Return to Play
Player health and safety is not negotiable
The World Players Association and its affiliated player and athlete associations throughout the world will continue to work with leading medical professionals, sports physicians, public health experts, epidemiologists and other experts as professional sports seek to resume training and competition having been shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Executive Director Brendan Schwab said:
“Due to the enormous economic impact of Covid-19, sports are understandably anxious to resume competition as soon as possible, albeit behind closed doors. Extensive measures are being developed aimed at preventing Covid-19 from entering or spreading throughout the sports environment.
“These measures, however, do not fully address the potential impact of the disease on individuals who contract it and how symptoms can be treated. Recent research suggests that athletes may be particularly vulnerable (especially to lung and organ damage) which may be very serious and even career ending. Nor do the measures fully address the risks arising from close physical contact which is an essential part of many professional sports.
“Some sports are also seeking to impose medical tests and treatments on players which we do not believe the science yet supports.
“At the same time, other sports are seeking to simply pass the legal risk of Covid-19 onto players by having them sign away their legal rights including through waivers.
“All proposals need to be calmly and rigorously assessed by relevant experts with a clear commitment that player health and safety is not negotiable.
“The World Players Association is determined to ensure that all players – through their unions – have the best possible scientifically supported information so that any decision to return to play is made in a way that (1) addresses the risk of Covid-19 to the maximum extent possible, (2) ensures that players who may contract the disease are fully protected, and (3) the elite health and safety standards that must always apply in the sporting environment are not in any way compromised.”
The Executive Committee of the World Players Association is scheduled to meet next week to consider a series of draft protocols to further guide player and athlete associations in negotiations on return to play. First among these is the recognition that sport’s desire to resume must not in any way undermine public health.
UNI Global Union General Secretary, Christy Hoffman, said:
“Public and player safety must come first as sport begins to return to play. World Players is perfoming an essential role in providing its members with clear, impartial and expert advice, while acting as a global voice for athletes’ concerns during the pandemic. It is crucial that athletes and players have a say in decisions that could pose a threat to their health and career.”