With countries around the world gradually returning to a state of normalcy after being in lockdown for months, FIBA (International Basketball Federation) has laid out some guidelines to help national Federations resume basketball activities.
FIBA published a 13-page document late last month, FIBA Restart Guidelines, detailing how the restart should be done.
The Bahamas is currently in phase three, moving into phase four, in the reopening of the country’s economy plan. Sooner or later, sports is expected to resume, but with a “new norm”. For basketball locally, the New Providence Basketball Association (NPBA) and the New Providence Women’s Basketball Association (NPWBA) will be looking to finish off their postseasons that came to an abrupt halt on March 14 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
FIBA stressed that a phased approach to getting basketball underway again is very important. Since early May, local professional and national team players have taken the opportunity that was granted via the Emergency Powers Orders to return to basketball gyms and get their bodies back in basketball shape. In short order, it is expected that team training will commence, but under certain guidelines. FIBA has instructed that their guidelines are not to replace the guidelines set out by respective governments and public health officials.
“When public authorities have granted permission for sport activities to begin, more conventional approaches to training and competition may commence,” the document stated.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) are looking to restart in the United States and the spectator element looks like it will be non-existent. Local leagues here in The Bahamas feed off spectators, and at the end of the day, FIBA said the respective leagues will be governed by their local public authorities.
“It must be recognized that public authorities will most likely restrict gatherings of large numbers of individuals and therefore spectator attendance may be prohibited as competitions commence. Federations should also anticipate that there may be an unwillingness on the part of many to participate in events in settings where crowds are anticipated,” the document laid out. “In any event, as spectator access is allowed by public authorities, it is reasonable to anticipate that there will be specific expectations regarding social distancing in spectator areas as well as very specific approaches to regulating entry and exit, monitoring and regulation of crowd activity, and a limitation on the use of other-than-essential venue facilities.”
FIBA stated that if spectators are allowed, venue staff training is needed.
Furthermore, FIBA advises national federations to form a restart committee that includes a chief executive officer (CEO), head of competitions official, an infectious diseases physician, a sports medicine physician, a project manager, a government liaison and a person or persons from the media. They also recommended that a full risk and mitigation assessment be done; develop a restart plan with wide sport consultation; liaise with local government and public health authorities; and implement the plan but have an exit strategy.
As for the preparation of players, FIBA advises three to six weeks of training prior to the restart of play and advises biosafety preparation of facilities prior to use.
Biosafety actions include the reinforcement of personal hygiene such as using hand sanitizers, hand washing, pre and post participation showers and utilizing personal protective gear. Another action FIBA recommended to be taken is to clean the entire venue with special attention to high traffic areas, entry points, the officials’ bench, the players’ benches and the court.
These are just a few of the recommendations and guidelines that FIBA has put forth as basketball resumes under a “new norm” in the midst of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.