Coronavirus Preparedness Recommendations & Guidelines from USA Table Tennis
USA Table Tennis is committed to supporting the health, safety and well-being of tournament directors, competition managers, club administrators, officials, volunteers, staff, and participants at all sanctioned events. We are in regular contact with the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) concerning coronavirus (COVID-19), and we are closely monitoring the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines and recommendations as they apply to event operations and management. We are also working directly with the USOPC Infectious Disease Advisory Group – comprised of infectious disease experts from exceptional institutions around the country – who are in direct contact with the CDC, WHO, and the International Olympic Committee’s medical staff to regularly obtain up-to-date information, disseminate this information, and establish policies and event procedures related to this infectious disease.
As details are updated, we plan to communicate all information directly to our officials through email and our website at https://usatt.org
We have collected the following recommendations for you to consider as you continue planning and preparing for your events:
General information on COVID-19
The coronavirus COVID-19 is responsible for the current outbreak affecting many countries worldwide. The common symptoms of coronavirus are coughing, difficulty breathing, and fever and the incubation period are between 2 to 14 days.
Infections can cause more severe symptoms, and in some cases have been fatal, in people with weakened immune systems, older people and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.
The World Health Organization has issued public advice on what everybody can do to limit their exposure to COVID-19.
USA Table Tennis position
The health and safety of athletes, officials and event hosts is a priority. USATT is monitoring official information on COVID-19 from health authorities and assessing the possible impact on the table tennis family.
The International Olympic Committee has been clear in its statement that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will proceed as planned this summer. Advice from worldwide authorities has prioritized general good practice in health and transmission prevention over the cancellation of events.
USATT will continue to organize national and international events as planned until given a specific directive from the public health authority in the relevant region otherwise. Steps will be taken to ensure events do not have a negative impact on the health of participants and that any disruption to athletes and athletes’ preparation for Tokyo 2020 is minimized.
USATT policy as the outbreak progresses is to follow the advice of the World Health Organization and directives from public health authorities.
Status of international events
The health of athletes and officials is a priority for USATT. The association is following the latest advice from the World Health Organization, the International Olympic Committee and the responsible authorities in the host countries of respective international events.
Any news on tournament status will be issued on the news section of the USA Table Tennis website at www.usatt.org.
As of March 11, 2020, the 2020 US Youth National Ranking Tournament has been postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date and time. All other future tournaments are scheduled and updates will be posted on the USATT website at www.usatt.org.
Decisions regarding postponement or cancellation
The postponement or cancellation of events is not within the control of hosts, USATT or the table tennis community but is caused by the ongoing developments as a result of Covid-19 in different regions of the world and subsequent decisions made by public health authorities.
The cancellation of events without a recommendation from public health authorities is discouraged as, according to the World Health Organization, these measures are likely to have limited benefit in containing the outbreak.
Events that take place should take additional precautions regarding the welfare of participants. This primarily revolves around the promotion of everyday preventive action and is based on the advice from the CDC in the USA:
• Promote the practice of everyday preventative actions.
• Provide COVID-19 prevention supplies.
• Plan for staff absences.
• Promote messages that encourage people to self-monitor and take appropriate action.
• If possible, identify a space that can be used to isolate participants who feel ill.
• Limit unnecessary person-to-person contact.
Prevention supplies that should be supplied include hand sanitizer or hand washing materials, tissues, closed bins and, where possible, disposable face masks only for those showing symptoms of infection.
The shaking of hands during matches and ceremonies will not be banned. However, unless person-to-person contact is necessary, it is advised that such actions are avoided.
It is important to identify the authorities that will make any decisions regarding the postponement or cancellation of the tournament, identify which stakeholders may need to know about the event (including relevant local healthcare providers) and to have in place contingency plans if changes to the event have to be made.
Stay informed on the COVID-19 situation and ensure contact details for all participants are kept maintained (through team leaders at international events) and communicate regularly on the situation and any procedures in place to mitigate concerns from participants and effectively deal with on-site issues.
Contingency plans to consider include but are not limited to:
• Procedure if the participant displays symptoms of COVID-19.
• Procedure if a participant tests positive for COVID-19.
• Key staff replacement plan.
• Stakeholder communication plan.
• Participant communication plan.
• Procedure for postponement or cancellation of the event.
• Facility requirement if participants are present at the time of postponement or cancellation.
Some countries have already banned spectators from sporting events. The impact of this on the organization of a tournament should be carefully considered, in case such a directive is issued by a relevant public health authority.
Advice for athletes and officials
The advice of the World Health Organization is that washing your hands is the best way to protect yourself against infection. While event organizers are being asked to provide an increase in handwashing facilities, you should also always try to carry hand sanitizer and tissues.
If you feel unwell or have the symptoms of COVID-19 – coughing, sneezing or fever – then seek medical help early. It is your responsibility to help protect the health of others.
Wash your hands
This advice is taken from the World Health Organization.
• Wash your hands regularly.
• Wash your hands with soap and water, then dry them thoroughly.
• Use alcohol-based hand rub if you don’t have immediate access to soap and water.
Washing your hands properly takes at least 20 seconds – or singing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice.
The BCP is a strategic approach that brings business departments together to create a transparent process that follows several strategic steps. These include project initiation, risk assessment, strategy development, plan development, emergency communications, awareness/training and coordination with public authorities when applicable.
The BCP outlines the actions to be taken during and after a disaster, and the process for each department to follow in their recovery to normal business operations.
The goals of the BCP should include the following:
- Create a Business Continuity Committee and determine its objectives.
- Form and outline the goals of your Business Continuity Management program.
- Determine the scope of your Business Continuity Plan.
- Put an emergency management process in place.
Business Continuity Management is a holistic process that identifies potential impacts that threaten an organization. It provides a framework for building resilience with the capability for an effective response that safeguards the interests of key stakeholders, reputation and value-creating activities.
USA Table Tennis is here to support you during this crisis. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to our office at 719-866-4583 for more information.
In addition, please be aware of the below resources from the CDC and the U.S. Department of State to help reduce your personal risk:
Additional resources can be found with theWHO Coronavirus Website, CDC Coronavirus Website. The IOC has also developed specific advice for athletes, including a statement from the IOC Medical and Scientific Director, Dr. Richard Budgett. We encourage you to follow the travel, prevention, testing, and treatment recommendations outlined by the CDC.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this ever-changing situation.