Update on guidance following Covid-19 measures from the NI Executive - Northern Ireland Gymnastics

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Update on guidance following Covid-19 measures from the NI Executive

We have received further guidance from the Northern Ireland Executive that allows for certain gymnastics activities to take place under the restrictions.

Last Wednesday (14th October) the NI Executive announced the suspension of indoor sport. On Friday, the Department of Health published its updated Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations and it has listed that the following circumstances around sporting events (defined as a gathering for the purpose of exercise, competitive sport, recreational sport or sport training) are exempt from the new restrictions:

  • an indoor sporting event if all participants are elite athletes or members of the same household. (Elite sport for gymnastics is defined at the bottom of this article)
  • an indoor sporting event if the participants are one individual and one coach and there is no contact between participants who are not members of the same household
  • an outdoor sporting event where all participants are elite athletes
  • an outdoor sporting event if there is no contact 

It is our understanding from these exemptions that gymnastics clubs can carry out the following under existing Step Forward Plan guidance:

  • Elite training*
  • Individual training/ one-to-one indoor sessions with one coach per gymnast. There must be a parent/guardian or the club welfare officer/appropriately trained safeguarding individual present who can see and hear all of the session. One-to-one sessions can include more than one gymnast if they come from the same household e.g. two siblings with one coach.
  • Multiple individual training sessions/ one-to-one sessions can take place if space permits and social distancing is adhered to. Where multiple one-to-one sessions are taking place, the club welfare officer, or a suitably trained safeguarding individual, who is not coaching must be present and be able to see and hear all of the sessions.
  • Fitness and conditioning sessions outdoors where there is no contact for a maximum of 15 people

We are seeking further clarity from Sport NI on the details of some of the measures. We will provide more information in an FAQs when we can and we will update these as the situation evolves further.

Soft play
The NI Executive announced as part of the new measures that soft play areas for children can remain open, subject to risk-assessments and with appropriate safety measures in place. Any associated hospitality provision must remain closed, unless operating for takeaway services.

Under this measure, we believe that parent and toddler sessions, overseen by a supervising coach, where children under 5 and adults have free movement of the gymnastics space, can continue, following the Step Forward guidance that is in place for this activity. Please note this may be subject to change.

We are disappointed that most of our community will not be able take part in gymnastics at the moment due to current restrictions. We will continue to lobby the government to review these measures and to look at the insight in relation to the spread of coronavirus in indoor sport and gymnastics as we know how much hard work has been done by our members to return safely.


*Elite training
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 define an ‘elite athlete’ as an individual who:

(i) derives a living from competing in a sport,

(ii) plays in a professional league or competition

(iii) is a senior representative nominated by a relevant sporting body

(iv) is a member of the senior training squad for a relevant sporting body, or

(v) is aged 16 or above and on an elite development pathway

Note: To be eligible for claiming elite status under (iii), (iv), (v) the athlete must be identified by the sporting body as a candidate for Tokyo Olympic Games 2021, Tokyo Paralympic Games 2021, European Championship, World Championship, or Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022.

Please note, this applies to both GBR and IRL gymnasts.

Gymnastics Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Criteria:
To be considered an elite athlete training towards the Commonwealth Games 2022 (MAG/WAG/RHY) gymnasts must be aged 16 or above and able to provide:

1. Evidence of a place on a senior squad* (GBR/IRL)


2. Evidence of placing in the top 8 apparatus/top 24 (AA) at an Senior** FIG standard event between April 2019-March 2020 where another Commonwealth Federation was present (e.g. British Championships, Challenge Cup, London Open, Home Nations event.)

*Evidence of a gymnasts’ place on a squad must be provided in writing from either British Gymnastics or Gymnastics Ireland

**Junior results will be considered if the gymnast was not a Senior during this period of time

British Gymnastics will also consider as an elite athlete:

  • A junior gymnast who is selected or identified/confirmed by the National Coach as working towards a major international (European or World Championships) within the 1st half of 2021.

Please note, this applies to both GBR and IRL gymnasts. Evidence must be provided in writing from either British Gymnastics or Gymnastics Ireland.

Please contact northernireland@british-gymnastics.org with a list of the athletes within this criteria who you wish to continue training or for any questions or queries regarding the above.

All clubs will be required to follow the existing Step Forward Plan guidance and ensure social distancing is maintained, regular cleaning of the facility/equipment is carried out, frequent hand washing/sanitising is in place and no contact is permitted between coach and gymnast or gymnast and gymnast. Pits are also not to be in use.

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