Positive news for polo
The Hurlingham Polo Association have this evening released their 10th Update, which finally shows some light at the end of the tunnel for all polo at all levels. Currently, competitive polo can only be played from 8 goals and above, with all polo below that level not allowed to be played at the moment. However, today Nick Wiles (Chairman of the HPA) spoke to DCMS to reassure them that the necessary protocols are already in place for polo to be able to resume below 8 goal; additionally, tomorrow the HPA has a meeting with the Chairman of APPG and is due to speak to the Head of Elite Sports and Public Health England. Although it is too soon to determine the outcome of tomorrow’s meeting, this news is certainly a step in the right direction and some much-needed positive news for players and clubs across England.  

Update No 10

9 July 2020

You have probably heard that the Government has made a significant announcement as far as sport is concerned this evening. The Chairman of the HPA has remained in regular communications with DCMS over the past few weeks and more frequently in recent days. We have made it clear to the DCMS that the necessary protocols are already in place and largely working well. We have repeatedly emphasised to them that the risk of the virus being spread by polo is minimal provided that the procedures are followed, how important economically it is that all levels of polo are allowed to start and that we are ready  to open the sport to all players as soon as their guidance allows.The Chairman has been in touch with DCMS today and is due to speak to Head of Elite Sports and Public Health England tomorrow. We also have a meeting with the Chairman of APPG tomorrow. We will have to check our current procedures against the new guidelines for team sports which we have yet to examine but DCMS has been passed the latest copy of our procedures and members of DCMS have recently taken the trouble to go to see polo being played.

All the indications are that they consider that our procedures have been well thought through and are being administered properly. They are aware that there have been some complaints lodged for non-compliance around social distancing and quarantine, and there has been the issue around polo as an elite sport with amateur players taking part but we are hopeful that our procedures will be some of the first to be approved and that, although it is DCMS’ view that polo is more of a contact sport than cricket and more comparable to hockey, we will shortly be able to open up the sport in a playable guise to all our playing members. There may need to be some changes, but I am sure that we will be able to live with whatever they might need to be. At this stage we are not clear whether it will be possible to relax the restriction on spectators. All of this will of course be dependent on the virus not spreading, and clubs and individuals continuing to play their part. Any opening up of the sport will be conditional and reversible and the remainder of our season to a great extent lies in the hands of all those playing and attending polo.

It will remain crucial for everyone in the sport to remain disciplined and adhere absolutely to the procedures we have developed as a sport. As at today, polo is one of a very few team sports being played and the reputation of polo is going to be seriously damaged if any future outbreak can be tracked back to careless procedures at polo.  It has been a bumpy ride and the temptation for many will be to not bother with some or all the procedures. This would be a huge disservice to yourself and your fellow polo players and all those businesses that support polo. Generally there has been widespread and stoic acceptance for the very difficult situation that we have all found ourselves in and the Chairman of the HPA would like to thank everyone for their support, in particular those who have joined the HPA in the hope that there would be some sort of a season. It is very much hoped that you are about to be rewarded. 

Photograph: Positive news for polo. By ©www.imagesofpolo.com/Hannah Wyles

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