Best Of British To Race In Pandemic-Compliant Bubble At Manchester International This Month – Adam Peaty Leading the Charge At Olympic-Race Test Event
Adam Peaty, James Wilby, Luke Greenbank and Paralympic champions Ellie Simmonds and Ellie Robinson and their Britain teammates will race this month at the Manchester International after organisers and backers built a COVID-19-Protocol compliant bubble to make sure the competition could go ahead from February 12-14.
Only athletes on the British-government approved Elite Athlete Return to Training lists are permitted to compete at the event organised under the corresponding Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) guidelines. The event will be held behind closed doors, in compliance with pandemic ‘Bubble Compliance’ but the action will be live-streamed for fans and other wishing to tune in.
Such is life in the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, which dictates that while the majority of the swimming community must wait for better news on dry land, most of those with the strongest shot at making the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in July and August get to practice race skills at the first test of the new Olympic year.
Jack Buckner, CEO of British Swimming, acknowledged the lot of the wider swimming community as he noted the importance of the Manchester International to those with a Tokyo 2020 goal:
“We acknowledge that as the British governing body for aquatics, we are in an extremely privileged position to be able to continue with our activity during this lockdown, whilst observing all the COVID regulations. This elite-only meet is key for us if we are to achieve our ambitions in Tokyo. Our thoughts are also with the wider aquatics community and we shall support all of the Home Nations’ efforts to return to the water as soon as permitted.”Jack Buckner
The IOC and Tokyo 2020 organisers have expressed their determination to stage the Games this year and yesterday saw the release of the first Playbook outlining how an Olympics altered by a global pandemic will look if it can all go ahead.
Whether the event goes ahead or not, swimmers must believe it will, prepare and plan accordingly.
All attending the event at the Manchester Aquatics Centre will have to submit to a “robust testing process”, British Swimming announced today. The Bubble protocol was developed in conjunction with the Manchester Safety Advisory Group (SAG), which includes Public Health England.
It requires swimmers and others to present a negative lateral flow test upon arriving at the meet hotel, which will be a part of the bubble along with the pool and private transport to and fro. British Swimming noted in a statement that “Face coverings and social distancing will be mandatory at all times, other than when swimmers are in the water”.
British Swimming’s Statement On Manchester International:
The Manchester International Swim Meet will go ahead in 2021, albeit under a heavily revised format, limited to elite athletes as defined by the government’s COVID-19 protocols.
Taking place at the Manchester Aquatics Centre from 12th – 14th February, a number of partners have helped make the meet happen, providing a key competition opportunity for the British swimmers targeting the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Given the current lockdown in England, only those athletes on the government approved Elite Athlete Return to Training lists are permitted to compete, with the competition run under the corresponding DCMS guidelines.
A collaborative working group including British Swimming, Manchester City Council, GLL and The City of Manchester Swim Team (COMAST) have worked extremely hard on developing the most rigorous COVID protocols possible. This will see a competition bubble, similar to the one used for the ISL in Budapest last year, implemented for four days.
Everyone involved in the meet, whatever their capacity, is required to be part of a robust testing process that has been developed in conjunction with the Manchester Safety Advisory Group (SAG), which includes Public Health England; this includes providing a negative lateral flow test upon arriving at the meet hotel. Those involved will then be required to confine themselves to the meet hotel, the Manchester Aquatics Centre and private transport for the duration. Face coverings and social distancing will be mandatory at all times, other than when swimmers are in the water.
Start lists are yet to be published, but the likes of Adam Peaty, James Wilby and Luke Greenbank – all named on the Tokyo team a couple of weeks ago – and Paralympic champions Ellie Simmonds and Ellie Robinson are all set to compete.
On the announcement, Jack Buckner, British Swimming Chief Executive, said: “We are very grateful to Manchester for their hard work to allow this event to happen during such difficult times for the whole country, including our aquatics community. With the Olympic and Paralympic Games drawing ever closer, our swimmers need competition opportunities.
“The Manchester event will provide that, as other nations also return to elite competition. However, the health and safety of all involved, from athletes right through to volunteers, is our absolute priority, and we are confident that the measures we have put in place are extremely robust and will keep everyone as safe as possible.
“We acknowledge that as the British governing body for aquatics, we are in an extremely privileged position to be able to continue with our activity during this lockdown, whilst observing all the COVID regulations. This elite-only meet is key for us if we are to achieve our ambitions in Tokyo. Our thoughts are also with the wider aquatics community and we shall support all of the Home Nations’ efforts to return to the water as soon as permitted.”
Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Skills for the City of Manchester, added: “This event will be held safely behind closed doors observing all the correct COVID-safe protocols, and we are totally supportive of British Swimming’s efforts to help the athletes’ critical preparations for the upcoming Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo later this year.”
Whilst the event is being run behind closed doors, there will be a livestream for fans to follow the action – more details to follow.