] Correspondent in Berlin
"All necessary restrictions, but all possible freedom" is the motto of the Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz whose government announced yesterday that from 1 May, all outdoor sports facilities such as athletics, tennis, golf or horse riding will reopen on their territory, always in compliance with the rules of social distancing and hygiene, which include, for example, not using changing rooms or common showers. The new regulation, which is part of the progressive withdrawal of the anti-coronavirus measures in the Alpine country, especially affects the 12 teams of its first soccer division, which may return to training, although still in small groups of up to six players. .
The Austrian vice chancellor, the green Werner Kogler also mentioned archery and paragliding. "This list is not complete, but it is clear which direction it is going," he replied to reporters asking for more details. It affects any sport outdoors and that can be practiced in small groups. And all the activities will continue to take place without spectators. It is also recommended to maintain minimum distances between five and 20 meters when cycling or running. For professional athletes, the exceptions also apply indoors.
The practice of sports is basic for the maintenance of health, that is the idea behind this permissiveness, as explained by the Minister of Health, Rudolf Anschober who recommends the population to practice some sport despite the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus, although always respecting the recommended security measures.
This new opening line lays the groundwork for the Austrian Bundesliga, suspended for now at least until May 1, to prepare for a restart, albeit without the presence of the public in the stadiums. In order to resume competition, professional clubs must guarantee all security conditions, including sanitary conditions and all necessary COVID-19 tests, as stressed by the Minister of Sports, also Minister of Culture and Kogler sport. "We are going to allow as much as possible and limit as little as possible," said the president. At the same time, the minister specified that all sports in closed halls, such as handball, table tennis or others, in addition to direct contact sports, such as judo or karate, will remain prohibited for now.
The minister of Interior, Karl Nehammer has been involved in this recovery of the sport and has organized a panel of experts to return to "an orderly mass sport".
In Austria there are more than 15,000 sports clubs, "more than 2.1 million people are active and organized in sports clubs," said Nehammer, "and it will take us months to return to full sporting normality." Through the platform called «GEMEINSAM.SICHER in Österreich » it is receiving queries and giving ad hoc responses for each association.
The Austrian Interior Ministry is one of the main sponsors of elite sport in the country. It has 60 athletes on its payroll, such as skier Conny Hütter and beach volleyball player Clemens Doppler, who regularly collaborate with the police and are raising awareness campaigns about the new safety regulations that associations and clubs should develop, under the auspices of the Ministry. "In tennis we will have to regulate the individual use of balls, in golf the use of support vehicles … The federal government can only establish the framework, we do not want to regulate every inch of the sport and that is why we leave a space of responsibility," says Kogler .