Portuguese athletics has been preparing the return to competition and has finalized the document for this step, which was prepared to take into account the rules and recommendations of the various national and international entities and which meets the most recent guidelines of the General Directorate of Health (DGS) for the use of sports venues and for the practice of sports.
It is a recovery program that, as explained in the introduction to the document, the president of the Portuguese Athletics Federation (FPA), Jorge Vieira, “aims to touch all areas of Portuguese athletics“. It is, therefore, in the words of the president of the FPA, “a progressive program, divided into phases and focused on achieving sports and social normality“.
In spite of being pervasive, it is necessary to emphasize that the reality that we live, still in the middle of a pandemic, imposes innumerable challenges and a constant updating of rules, norms, and recommendations, therefore, whenever justified, the recommendations contained in this document will be updated, in compliance with the guidelines issued by the decision-making bodies, to which we are attentive and with which we maintain an open line of dialogue. Safety, development, and promotion of the sport will always be the objectives on the basis of these and future recommendations of the Portuguese Athletics Federation.
Even before entering the Return to Competition Program itself, Jorge Vieira traces the general lines that guided the spirit of the recommendations, emphasizing that the “two fundamental and inseparable pillars, the training that prepares the athletes and the competitive activity, were deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic“, arguing that “sport should assume a fundamental and priority role“, reinforcing the role of sports “in the return of the population to a normal and healthy life“.
“There is no freer, more accessible, more democratic and more interwoven modality in our human nature. Athletics contains the gestures – walking, running, jumping, and throwing – that everyone practiced, naturally, at least during their childhood and youth years. These gestures in the sports format embody the oldest Olympic sport”, he assures.
Jorge Vieira also highlights the role of the structures of the sport: “Our district and regional associations, as intermediate structures for the management of national athletics, are called to the superior coordination of this process of returning to normalcy. Clubs are the base cells of Portuguese sport and, in particular, athletics. Most of them are used to living with difficulties, especially financial ones. We believe that, like other difficult times, all our clubs will progressively overcome the difficulties resulting from this paralysis of social and economic activity.”
In view of the challenges imposed by this pandemic, the president of the FPA considers that it is also essential to point the focus to other measures aimed at the development of the national sport. “This is also an opportunity to deepen the relationship between federated sport and school sport. We understand that school sport is central to the development of Portuguese sport. For this to be operationalized efficiently, it is essential to open the doors of schools and clubs, initiating an unprecedented cooperation. This is a measure that can no longer be postponed”.
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