UKA warns athletes not to breach guidelines at British Championships

Athletes risk being kicked out of the British Championships if they fail to follow strict coronavirus guidelines.

The event is due to go ahead in Manchester on September 4 and 5.

Athletes, staff and volunteers will be expected to adhere to two-metre social distancing while there will be one-way systems and competitors must arrive at set times, although there will not be testing.

Joanna Coates, UK Athletics chief executive, has warned any violations will be met with sanctions.

She said: “They will be given very strict guidelines and if they break them, it will be taken extremely seriously. We have had lots of communication with athletes, we are assuring them it will be a safe environment so we are hopeful that they don’t behave like that.

“It is actually them asking us intelligent questions about what the environment will look like but we will take it seriously, as we would if any of our staff break the rules.”

The Championships at the Manchester Regional Arena will be behind closed doors and is British Athletics’ first major event since February amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It has already been moved twice after initially being scheduled in June – as Olympic trials – before being pushed back to August, and Coates insisted there is a determination to ensure it goes ahead after lockdown measures were tightened in Greater Manchester last week.

“At the moment cancellation isn’t being spoken about at all. We are meeting Manchester City Council on a weekly basis and at the moment they are still very confident that it will go ahead,” she said.

“We haven’t yet decided on what the event schedule might look at but we should able to announce it next week.

“The measures we have to put in place are extensive, as you might imagine, but we are limiting the amount of staff there and there will not be any guests obviously. At the moment we are still very positive – we have had no negative feedback from Manchester.

“We are being told, ‘yes we could still go ahead if the conditions are the same as today’. They are not giving us any insight whether or not they are going to lift the restrictions they have in place but what they are saying is that if the level is as it is, they could still do it.

“There is flexibility. We’re having those conversations. Would we really want to move it again? It is very much down to can our broadcasters find a slot? We have a great slot now. Could we find it again? It is possible to move it again?”