The FIH Playbook is the guidance document for FIH tournament protocols during the Covid Pandemic. As the pandemic raged across the globe, effectively putting society, and of course sport, on hold, so hockey had to get used to a new normal. The situation was unprecedented and therefore called for dynamic responses.
The document aims to provide a guideline for all those involved in the delivery of FIH events. This includes hosts, teams, officials, media and broadcasters and it focuses on providing a safe playing environment for everyone involved.
Some of the guidelines will have become second nature now. Wearing of face masks, washing hands, socially distancing – these have all become part and parcel of everyday life. The concept of a team bubble, where everyone involved in a team, including support staff and officials, is something that has grown out of the knowledge gained in the past year.
Vaccinations are also a later addition to the original guidelines. In May 2020, vaccinations were way in the future. Now they are very much a reality and the FIH is working closely with the national associations to encourage athletes, officials and stakeholders to be vaccinated before travelling to an event.
It is a similar situation when it comes to medical facilities at events. The provision of Covid officers for teams, Covid isolation rooms at hotels and Covid referral hospitals are all developments that could not have been foreseen back in early 2020.
As international matches come back onto the calendar, so the Playbook outlines travel guidelines. This includes detailed advice on how to keep everyone as safe as possible on flights, transits from the airport and travel to and from the ground.
By complying with all the protocols, including regular testing and maintenance of team bubbles, outlined in the Playbook, by the time the teams and officials arrive at a stadium, it is reasonable to assume that the matches can be played under as normal conditions as possible.
It is also important that the sport is seen to be observing all Covid restrictions so on-field behaviour such as spitting is punishable with a card and huddles or goal celebrations are heavily discouraged.
Aside from learning from within hockey and from other experiences of other sports, there has been many other inputs. These include the FIH document Return to Hockey and Pro League guides, the IOC/Tokyo2020 Playbooks, World Health Organization guides and COVID guidelines from other sporting events that have taken place.
FIH is hopeful that the Playbook will prove a helpful resource for the national associations and continental federations who are planning upcoming hockey events and that it contributes towards providing safe environments for players, coaches, officials, the hockey media and spectators to get back to hockey events in the coming weeks and months.
Courtesy: Field Hockey