Government confirms return of elite sport behind closed doors
On Saturday 30 May, it was announced that the UK government has given the green light for elite sports to return, albeit behind closed doors. Oliver Dowden, Culture Secretary announced the return of live sports, emphasising that the government wants to “re-establish some normality in other parts of our lives”.

At the daily Downing Street briefing, Dowden said “For more than two months after sport stopped and after weeks of round-the-clock discussions with medical experts and professional sports bodies, I’m delighted to announce today that the Government has published guidance which allows competitive sport to resume behind closed doors from Monday at the earliest.”Football, tennis, horse racing, Formula One, cricket, golf, rugby, snooker and others are all set to return to our screens shortly.”

However, various measures needed to be in place for sporting events to go ahead which include a screening process for coronavirus symptoms at the venue, a one-way system for people and vehicles, minimising the use of dressing rooms and of course maintaining social distancing wherever possible. Well, what does this mean for English polo? Today, Monday 1 June, the Hurlingham Polo Association’s (HPA) Covid-19 Steering Group are meeting at 5pm, the results of which will influence how soon competitive polo returns to the UK. There is a concern that the Home Office’s ‘elite sports’ may not extend to all levels of polo, if so, then which levels will be allowed to be played is yet to be announced by the HPA. 

Under the HPA’s current level system, clubs have to reach level three in order to be permitted to play three-a-side polo, and in order to play competitive polo, there are certain rules that need to be followed. These include, but are not restricted to: 

• Only the player with the ball can be approached

• Only one mounted umpire• Each attendee must check their temperature the day before and the morning of play

• Temperatures will be checked on entry

• Each vehicle must display a hand sanitiser on entry and be applied on arrival at polo

• Face coverings or masks to be worn by players and grooms throughout practice

• Each player is limited to six ponies and two grooms

Polo Times is in direct contact with the HPA on a regular basis, in order to understand the constantly evolving situation so we can relay the information to our readers. So tune into our social media pages and website for the latest updates.  

Photograph: Elite sports can be played again, albeit behind closed doors. By ©www.imagesofpolo.com

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