Flanders unveils proposal to restart team sports and competitions
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    Flanders unveils proposal to restart team sports and competitions

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    A leaked plan by Flanders’ sports minister to progressively restart sports and mass sporting events in the region is awaiting confirmation by experts, the minister confirmed.

    The Flemish minister competent for sports and education, Ben Weyts, drew up a plan under which outdoor and indoor team sports will be allowed to restart in reduced groups from 18 May and which aims to allow mass sporting events to go forward from September.

    Weyts said that his team had submitted the preliminary plan as a proposal to the Group of Experts for an Exit Strategy (GEES), the experts tasked with advising the government on how to phase out the lockdown.

    “We are still waiting for the advice of the virologists. We expect more clarity at the National Security Council next week ” Weyts said, according to De Standaard, adding that there were still some ways to go before September.

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    18 May

    Training for team sports such as football, hockey or basketball may again take place outdoors by groups of no more than 20 people and provided there is at least 30 square metres of space provided for each player.

    Matches and contact between players would be prohibited and competitions would still not be allowed at this stage.

    The plan would at this stage allow for groups of up to 20 cyclists to hit the road and would allow all children under the age of 12 to practice any type of sport, without an audience.

    1 June

    Individual sports in indoor places such as the pool or fitness clubs would be allowed to resume in groups of up to two people.

    Sports that would be allowed again at this stage include swimming, badminton or table tennis.

    15 June

    Training for sports like volleyball, handball, netball or basketball can resume under strict conditions and, with matches not allowed.

    At this stage, the plan also says that gyms would be able to restart group classes with no more than 20 participants, including coaches or instructors.

    1 July

    Contact sports would be allowed again and contact between members of a single team could potentially be allowed again. By this stage, judo or karate lessons would be able to resume.

    August-September

    From 1 August, Weyts’ timeline includes a push to allow sports competitions to take place with a limited number of attendants, capped at 2,000, including both audience and players, according to De Standaard.

    The timeline also earmarked 1 September as a date from which mass sporting events, such as the Tour de Flandres or the Memorial Van Damme, an annual athletics competition, would be allowed to take place.

    The plan, obtained HLN, was confirmed by Weyts who acknowledged in a radio interview that the plan may appear “a bit optimistic,” and that they had asked the experts to consider it for an extra week.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times