27th June 2020

Science World Athletics: Anti-viral sand part of ‘new normal’

Science World Athletics: Anti-viral sand part of ‘new normal’


science Malaika Mihambo competes at Doha 2019
World Athletics has devised ways to limit the risk of coronavirus spreading before, during and after competition

Anti-viral sand, a ban on post-race hugs and open-air call rooms are some of the measures proposed to protect athletes and officials when international athletics resumes.

World Athletics’ Health and Science department has drawn up guidelines to advise event organisers.

It also suggests a pack of masks, hand sanitiser and wipes for each athlete.

Chlorine should be added to water jumps and coaches limited to advising athletes via mobile phones.

Champion pole vaulters compete in garden challenge

Athletics has made only tentative attempts to restart in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with male and female ‘back garden’ pole vault challenges – featuring the discipline’s biggest names competing via video link – the most high-profile events so far.

On Thursday evening, the Impossible Games – a reworked version of the usual Oslo leg of the Diamond League series – will take place.

It will feature two-time world champion Karsten Warholm attempting to break the seldom-run 300m hurdles world record and a 2,000m team event with the Ingebrigtsen brothers taking on a Kenyan team, running simultaneously in Nairobi and led by world 1500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot.

However with bigger, less-socially-distanced fields, World Athletics has outlined some more measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

These include:

  • sand in jumping pits mixed with a solution that contains biodegradable and non-skin-aggressive virucide agent
  • chlorine added to the water jump for the steeplechase
  • starting blocks to be cleaned between each race
  • relay teams to be discouraged from gathering or hugging after a race
  • Call rooms should be arranged in an outdoor location
  • Face masks should be worn by everyone in the stadium, with the exception of athletes when warming up or competing in their event.


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