Returning athletes face health and safety concerns

Sport has been gradually returning to action in some parts of the world. Without fans, it is not the same. However, there is more to be worried about than the threat of the virus.

It was football, just not as we know it. On 16 May, top-flight action returned to Germany as the Bundesliga peeped above the parapet and trudged into an unknown future.

There were no crowds. The audible thump of the ball leaving the players’ boots reverberated off the yawning stands. The play was understandably ponderous and sloppy at times. But it was football, and for those who care about the fate of a ball it was welcomed like rain after a ceaseless drought.

It was not without complications though. Tactics and atmosphere aside, a worrying statistic emerged. From the first six fixtures after the Covid-19 enforced lockdown, eight players suffered muscle strains. That is an injury rate of 40.4 for every 1 000 hours of play. Before hibernation the injury rate in Germany was 13.8 for the same amount of on-field action.

“We’re watching events in Germany very closely,” says Rene Naylor who has worked as the Springboks’ physiotherapist since 2008. “We’ve got a bit of distance in South Africa in terms of when the virus hit and when we expect to return to play. We’re able to watch what other countries are doing and learn from them. We’re leaving no stone unturned and are paying careful consideration to what the numbers are telling us.

This article was initially published at newframe

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