Updated May 21, 2020
As we head into Phase 2 of “BC’s Restart Plan”, we wanted to give you an update about what this means for our volleyball community.
Return to Play Planning
As we previously communicated, the BC government asked each sport to develop its own Return to Play plan for this phase that meets health authority guidelines. We have been working hard to develop a Return to Play Plan for indoor and outdoor volleyball, consulting with the provincial sport bodies, our clubs, Volleyball Canada, and other sports. Our delay in sharing a plan with you is because of two arising developments:
- Changes to the Approval Process
We were originally told that we would submit a Return to Play plan for ultimate approval from the Ministry of Health and that sports would only be permitted to return to play having secured this approval. Last week, however, we were notified that our Return to Play plans would now not be approved by the BC government. Instead we will be provided with general guidelines for the sport sector which each individual provincial sport organisation will then have to interpret and apply to their specific sports. This change in the approval process has created shared concerns amongst the provincial sport organisations about risks, insurance and liability.
- Risk and Insurance
As we know there are different types of risks associated with participating in sport and volleyball. The current situation has potentially added to the assumption of risk. Volleyball BC’s insurance underwriter, Markel, has provided an exclusion notice for COVID-19. This exclusion means that there is currently no provision for liability and defense cost coverage associated with COVID-19 related claims or lawsuits. This change potentially brings another added risk with liability concerns for all of our organizations within Volleyball BC’s membership. We have inquired with our insurance broker to see what additional insurance coverage is available, however, they have informed us that there is no such coverage currently available. This situation is not specific to volleyball or BC and is being applied across amateur sport in BC and Canada.
So where does this leave us?
Our concern is that liability is being pushed down to each individual sport and, more importantly, to local communities and clubs to manage, all under a situation where sport people are not the health experts. Volleyball BC is joining other provincial sports in expressing these concerns through the channels that we have available to us. Both viaSport BC – the sport agency of the BC Government – and Sport BC – the body that represents the voice of sport in BC – are well aware of both of the issues above. There is work being undertaken to advocate, lobby, and push for greater support to allow us to safely resume organized sport in a way that minimizes risk to participants and to the organisations who deliver it.
In the meantime, we continue to develop our Phase 1 Return to Volleyball Guidelines that will be further refined when the BC government provide us with the general guidelines for sport. Our guidelines include considerations for hygiene, participants, coaches, facilities, equipment, and programming. We will be happy to share it with you as soon as we are able.
Participant safety remains our priority. We are exploring other risk management measures that will help us resume organized sport safely, including equipment cleaning, social distancing measures, health screening, and participant waivers. However, none of these measures will bring the risk to zero. The decision to organize and deliver any volleyball activity will lie with each individual volleyball organization who must be comfortable with the risks associated with implementing any form of volleyball programming under a Return to Play Plan. Ultimately, the most important decision-maker is the parent or person registered to play volleyball.
The difference between recreational play and organized volleyball
As municipalities start to open up recreational amenities for public use, we may start to see beach or grass volleyball courts around our communities. You may be wondering how this is possible if we cannot yet safely resume our volleyball programs. We would like to take this opportunity to distinguish between “recreational play” and “organized sport”. Recreational play includes activities that individuals select to do independently such as use public tennis courts or beach volleyball courts. Participation in these activities is at the discretion of the individual and should adhere to current public health recommendations. Volleyball BC does not sanction these activities and they are not considered the same as organized sport. Organised sport includes all activities such as volleyball leagues, clinics, camps, programs and events, which are formally arranged and insured, whether through Volleyball BC or not. In this context, Volleyball BC is working with our sport partners toward an opening up of organized sport. In the meantime, recreational play of volleyball may become possible where local municipalities and health authority guidelines permit. We ask that you follow municipal and health guidelines if you choose to make use of this opportunity.
Like you, we are keen to resume volleyball as quickly as possible. However, we cannot jeopardise the safety of participants or the progress that has been made to flatten the COVID-19 curve in BC. We also want to ensure that our members, clubs and the individuals who lead them are aware of the potential risks with decisions they make. We are committed to keeping you updated as things continue to evolve.
We understand that this is a changing and confusing situation that we are all trying to navigate. If we can be of any assistance – or answer any questions – please do not hesitate to reach out and ask us. In the meantime, thank you for your continued support and for playing your role in keeping our community safe and healthy.
Chief Executive Officer