Latest COVID-19 restrictions wreak havoc for basketball -

Latest COVID-19 restrictions wreak havoc for basketball

Newly issued Covid-19 guidance for England from the government has had significant impact on basketball’s return to action at all levels, along with putting the BBL and WBBL’s season in jeopardy.

From today, senior (18+) indoor basketball, other than at elite level, must only take place in groups of up to six people, whilst fans will now not be allowed to return to elite sporting events, potentially for up to six months.

The BBL – whose season was meant to start October 2 – and the WBBL have released a statement urging the government for immediate support:

“We recognise that the Government is taking these measures in the interests of the nation’s health and we fully support them in that.

“However, to remove the possibility of such a vital source of income only a week before we were due to start our season means we have no option but to call on the Government for immediate support at this crucial time.

“The viability of our league, the only professional men’s basketball league in the UK, is predicated on the ticket income as thousands of fans show their support each week and without this support we are in danger of losing clubs who work in the heart of their communities, as well as the current and future generations of talented sportspeople.”

Sheffield Sharks General Manager Sarah Backovic has told the Yorkshire Post she expects the start of the BBL season to be delayed.

Meanwhile, indoor Under-18s basketball and senior elite basketball remain exempt from the ‘rule of six’ social distancing restrictions, so NBL Division 1, along with the EABL, WEABL and junior national leagues and local leagues (under-18) can continue training and competitive play.

Basketball England have also revealed they are examining the feasibility of 3×3 competition for non-elite seniors as an alternative to the 5v5 game, in their statement on the updated guidance.

What indoor basketball activity currently can take place?

  • Elite competition and training – BBL, WBBL, NBL1, WNBL1, EABL, WEABL.
  • Junior competition and training – NBL and local league for U18s and younger.
  • Non-elite senior training and competition in bubbles of up to six people. Additional information regarding how many bubbles of six can use a single court and how many coaches and other personnel can be involved will be confirmed as soon as possible.

What indoor basketball activity currently cannot take place?

  • Any non-elite senior competition and training in bubbles of more than six people – this applies to NBL2 and WNBL2, NBL3 plus regional and local leagues.
  • Informal basketball in groups more than six people.

What does this mean for Basketball England competitions?

  • Junior competition can take place at EABL, WEABL and Under-18s level and lower.
  • Senior competition can take place at NBL1, WNBL1 – if practical and financially viable.
  • Senior competition at NBL2, NBL3 and WNBL2 cannot currently take place in its current format.

In line with the Government guidance, spectators are not permitted at any basketball activity at any level of the game.

“It is disappointing to see restrictions placed on the game after the patience, hard work and dedication from everyone in the sport,” Basketball England CEO Stewart Kellett commented.

“Clubs have been resilient, flexible and respectful of the Government guidelines and our Return to Play guidance to work under such difficult conditions.

“The Government recognises this latest move is a blow for indoor sport. We will continue to work with them and Sport England to find an approach that maintains the safety of our members and everyone in basketball, whilst getting everyone back on the court as soon as possible.

“We will push for the further clarity in the guidance, ongoing support to help the game survive and, where possible, influence the Government to safely reduce the constraints on the non-elite senior game.

“We will provide regular updates as further information emerges.”

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