The FIG released the nominative roster for the Szombathely Challenge Cup, set to take place the first week of October, and while I expected to see only a handful of names on the list, I was surprised to see that a total of 80 MAG and WAG athletes are planning on attending.
All of the competitors on the list are from Europe, with the majority coming from non-Western European countries, where the coronavirus pandemic has been relatively contained, including in host country Hungary. Life has been getting back to normal in the region over the summer, and with so much time away from the sport, gymnasts are more than ready to get back out on the floor.
However, getting them back on the floor safely is a chief concern, and so along with the nominative roster, the FIG has also released COVID-19 Guidelines for the event, outlining the requirements for all participants organizing, taking part in, or attending an event like this.
The guidelines include links to Hungary’s specific advisories, as well as instructions for what participants will need to do before they arrive in the country (like securing negative tests as well as invitation letters from the organizers), during the event (masks are mandatory at almost all times, though gymnasts are allowed to take them off while training and competing, and there are protocols in place for sanitizing and disinfecting everything all the time), and after (anyone who tests positive for the coronavirus within 14 days of leaving the host country must contact the organizers, who must then conduct contact tracing).
Most of the guidelines are common sense, like washing your hands often and keeping your distance from competitors from other countries, but in practice, many of these will be hard to maintain, especially as space is so limited in venues, especially when gymnasts are warming up in large groups prior to the event or standing in herds at chalk bowls.
I think the testing requirements and temperature checks will definitely help to limit any spreading of the virus, and I think events like these are important for us to start easing back into this and other sports, but at the same time, all it takes is one person to come into the venue unknowingly sick, and then, bam, an outbreak. I’m cautiously optimistic here based on how other similar sporting events have played out in Europe, but will be freaking out until we know for sure that it turned out for the best.
The roster for Szombathely includes several gymnasts who qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games, including Hungary’s Zsofia Kovacs, as well as many challenge cup regulars from the area. A full list of competitors is below, though with the pandemic constantly evolving, assume that nothing is certain and everything is tentative until we actually see it happen.
Article by Lauren Hopkins