Update #5 – Sport Advisory on COVID-19

As provided to AOA from the CSIO. https://www.csiontario.ca/news/advisory-covid-19

UPDATE #5 | MARCH 17, 2020

This joint message is from the Sport Medicine Advisory Committee comprised of Chief Medical Officers from the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, and the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network (COPSIN). It is meant to guide National Sporting Organizations (NSOs) in decision-making with respect to travel to competitions within and outside Canada. Information has been obtained from the World Health Organization, Government of Canada and Australian Institute of Sports websites. Other references are listed in this document. This advisory will be updated regularly and distributed to NSOs and other high performance sport partners.

As of March 17 the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is over 183,000 globally, with approximately 80,000 recovered and over 7,100 deaths. The largest surges in cases continue to be in Europe with Italy, France, Germany and Spain being hardest hit. There are 161 countries reporting cases. The WHO has declared COVID-19 as a pandemic.

In Canada, the numbers are rising, with over 440 confirmed cases, with 4 deaths in a nursing home in BC and 1 death in ON. The Public Health Agency of Canada still states that the overall risk of infection in Canada is low, but the entire nation needs to work together to “flatten the epidemic curve” (slow the rate of transmission so that at its peak, the case load will not overwhelm our health care system’s capacity).

The existing strong advice on the importance of hand and facial hygiene and “social distancing” still holds.

Updated Government of Canada Recommendations:

·        All non-essential travel outside Canada is to be avoided.

·        All Canadians currently abroad are urged to return to Canada ASAP.

·        All travellers returning from any destination including USA are required to self-isolate for 14 days from the date of return (see the infographic below for specific information on what is involved in self-isolation).

·        Canadian borders are now closed except to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and USA citizens.

·        If you have symptoms (fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat) when attempting to board a plane to return to Canada you will not be allowed on the flight.

·        Airlines are reducing capacity and flights (e.g. – Air Canada is operating at 50% of normal capacity), such that it may be difficult to return to Canada later.

·        As of 18 March, international arrivals by air (excluding USA, Caribbean, and Mexico) will only be through Toronto, Montreal, Calgary or Vancouver.

·        There is enhanced screening and advice on self-isolation at all airports (see the infographic link below)

·        All Canadians are requested to stay home and work from home, practice social distancing (2m distance) if at all possible.


Sports and Institutes:

·        The IOC remains committed to the Games in Tokyo going ahead on time and is addressing the qualification system through the International Sport Federations.

·        See the IOC communiqué

·        Tokyo 2020 Qualifying and test events continue to be cancelled.

·        The IOC and IPC are working with International Sport Federations to develop fair alternate qualifying processes.

·        INS, CSIO, CSIC, CSIP, CSCS, CSCM and CSCA are all closed. Many staff are working from home. Contact your regional institute or centre by email for details.

·        Athletics Canada closed both its East and West Hubs on 16 March 2020.

·        There was one confirmed positive case at the Cross Country World Cup event in Québec City. It was a foreign national who immediately isolated on arrival, but the Canadian team members have been advised to undergo 14 days of self-isolation after leaving Québec City.

·        As noted before athletes should not seek on-site medical attention for respiratory conditions (cough, fever, runny nose, sore throat) at CSI clinics. Consult with local public health authorities or CMOs by telephone or email to discuss treatment, isolation or the need for testing.

·        Over the last 48 hours there have been multiple closures and restrictions on public gatherings, restaurants, bars, casinos, gyms, libraries, etc. across the country. This varies by region. Check the provincial links here (PROVINCIAL LINKS) or your own city links for details and specifics.

Training Environments :

·        NSOs should withhold athletes/coaches/staff with symptoms from attending training.

·        Medical advice recommends that self-isolation includes staying at home and avoiding all mass gatherings and public transport. Training outside (e.g. running) is permissible in isolation; avoiding social gatherings or training groups.

·        Spacing of 2 metres or greater for exercising athletes (equivalent to 4m2 = 45ft2 floor space per athlete in indoor spaces) is recommended and should be adopted by NSOs in terms of athlete and equipment spacing.

·        If training facilities are still accessible NSOs should check with facility cleaning services regarding cleaning fluids and enhanced practices to ensure optimal effectiveness of products, and to ensure that cleaning is directed at surfaces frequently touched by hands rather than floors and walls, etc.

·        NSOs should strongly review training in public venues that they cannot control for enhanced hygienic practices or social spacing appropriate to athletes. Consider off-hour use and NSO involvement in monitoring of cleaning.

Mental Health:

·        It is important to attend to the mental health of athletes whose training or qualification for 2020 Summer Games may have been interrupted by this pandemic.

·        Athletes can reach out to mental health professionals or mental performance consultants through their NSO or at regional institutes by email.

·        Please see the linked infographic from Game Plan for additional advice below.



WHO website on Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

General Information

COVID-19 is a virus in the coronavirus family. Coronaviruses in this family are responsible for illnesses that range from the common cold to more serious illnesses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). COVID-19 is a new virus and so health officials are still learning about its impact and severity. At this time, it appears to cause an illness similar to the flu with the most common signs of infection being fever, cough and shortness of breath. In severe cases patients can develop pneumonia, severe respiratory distress, kidney failure and death.



Recommendations for protecting yourself and preventing spread of this illness include frequent hand washing and covering both your nose and mouth when coughing. Try to cough or sneeze into your arm, away from others, or into tissue paper (to be disposed in toilet). Wash your hands immediately afterwards. You should avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness.

What to do if you think you have COVID-19

Because the early symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other respiratory illnesses, if you have any of the common symptoms (fever, cough and shortness of breath) you should contact your doctor’s office and arrange to have a consultation.


At this time, there is no specific treatment for COVID-19. The goals of medical management are to identify other treatable causes of illness (such as influenza), manage any complications from COVID-19 and provide advice on how to limit the transmission from known cases. There are efforts internationally to produce a vaccine and to identify if any of the currently available antiviral medications are effective and safe. An update is expected to be released in mid- 2020. A vaccine will likely take longer as it will have to go through longer clinical trials to confirm safety and efficacy.

Travel Advisories as of March 17, 2020:

All countries recommend no travel and require 14-day self-isolation upon return.

Other Resources:

• WHO travel advice
• WHO emergency dashboard
• WHO situation reports
• USA Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
• Johns Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard

Further Questions:

Further information about COVID-19 may be obtained from your NSO Chief Medical Officer or Team Physician, or the Chief Medical Officers of the Sport Medicine Advisory Committee.

Dr. Mike Wilkinson  Canadian Olympic Committee   mwilkinson@olympic.ca
Dr. Andy Marshall   Canadian Paralympic Committee amarshall@paralympic.ca
Dr. Suzanne Lecler Institut National du Sport du Québec  sleclerc@insquebec.org
Dr. Doug Richards  Canadian Sport Institute Ontario  drichards@csiontario.ca
Dr. Brian Benson   Canadian Sport Institute Calgary  bbenson@csicalgary.ca
Dr. Paddy McCluskey Canadian Sport Institute Pacific   pmccluskey@csipacific.ca