Estonian top athletes can keep training for the Olympics during the state of emergency


Restrictions on the freedom of movement and ban on visiting sports centres intended for public use do not apply to approximately 80 Estonian athletes with their trainers and support staff who are preparing for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

"Conditions for training safely, including the state of emergency period, must be ensured for our celebrated athletes to still have a chance to succeed in the Olympics. Top athletes are used to the way of living which minimises their chances of getting ill in standard circumstances, so making an exception for them does not present a significant risk of the virus spreading," the Minister of Culture, Tõnis Lukas, said.  

Martti Raju, Sports Director of the Estonian Olympic Committee and Estonian chef de mission, was grateful for this absolutely necessary exception made for Estonian top athletes. 

"Sports life has been put on hold, but our best of the best need an exception because, judging by the currently available information, the Tokyo Olympic Games are going to take place as planned, and a long break in training would have a critical effect on the performance in the Olympics. We would like to thank the head of the state of emergency, the Minister of Culture and the sports facilities for the understanding shown in the state of emergency. On our part, we will be taking stringent precautions to ensure that the top athletes who keep training, their support personnel and the staff of the sports facilities we are using stay healthy," Raju said.

Martti Raju says that individual top athletes who have already secured participation in the Olympics or are highly likely to qualify will be able to keep training at Audentes Sports Centre and Rowing Centre Kalev in Pärnu. 

"We are preparing a list of the athletes who will be able to use these two facilities for training for the Olympics and are making detailed organisational arrangements for the use of these sports centres. Specific conditions for using Audentes Sports Centre and Rowing Centre Kalev will be arranged with the owners of the facilities. All the athletes to be granted this opportunity will be personally notified by the NOC through the relevant federations. Other people allowed to visit the sports facilities in question will be the athletes’ trainers as well as individual medical and support staff who will also be put on a special list. The sports centres will remain closed for the rest of general public," Raju said.

Dr Mihkel Mardna, member of the board at Sports Medicine Foundation [Spordimeditsiini SA] and the physician of the Estonian Olympic delegation, said that full-scale disinfection of rooms and surfaces will be taking place at Audentes Sports Centre, Rowing Centre Kalev in Pärnu and the Sports Medicine Foundation. 

"Every athlete, trainer and support staff member to enter the facility must be free of any symptoms of the infection; the same applies to all the local facility personnel. Hand disinfection options must be available at the entrance and exit. The athletes who are currently quarantined must remain so until the end of their term of quarantine. When an athlete comes to the facility after being quarantined or displays any infection symptom, each case of entering the sports facility must be individually approved by the Sports Medicine Foundation to ensure the safety of the athletes who are training there. Only the people on the list approved by the Estonian Olympic Committee and no one else will be allowed to enter the facilities." Dr Mardna described some of the precautions to be taken.