Norwegian sports gave a clear message in Wednesday’s meeting with Minister of Culture Anette Trettebergstuen and the health leaders. The sport believes they can consider a full reopening already in January.
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– We believe that we can handle a full opening of the sport from mid-January given that the situation is as it is now, says handball president Kåre Geir Lio to VG.
Experience shows that good organization with the right infection control measures is the best protection against the spread of infection in society that sport can offer, says sports president Berit Kjøll in a press release.
She brought the Football, Ice Hockey, Ski and Handball Association with her in the digital meeting with Trettebergstuen and tops from the Ministry of Health, the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
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Lise Klaveness from the football association asked for a new approach from the government after new tough measures were introduced on 15 December.
– We are one and a half years out in the pandemic, the vaccination rate is high and the wear and tear around having a division that in the previous shutdown led to a large group standing on the sidelines for a year and a half is so enormous. Is it possible to open up for another approach based on the uniqueness of the sport, that the general recommendation of a meter distance is not interpreted absolutely as a ban on contact in the football game itself, asks the NFF director who has been proposed as the new football president.
She asks that the sport be given the same trust as, for example, hairdressers, masseurs and podiatrists. A general and national recommendation should have a core of flexibility, she believes.
– My impression is that just the thought of us entering a new period of closure where large groups are on the sidelines, is like poison in the movement. It’s like a claw in my stomach. The football ban for, for example, the 2nd division for women was constant while people went on holiday to the south last summer. It has left deep traces. We are now obliged to put pressure on to propose other solutions, Klaveness continues.
Minister of Culture Anette Trettebergstuen (Labor Party) repeats the Government’s message that there will be a new assessment of the measures next week.
– We have had a good input meeting with the sport. We are interested in listening to how infection control measures affect and affect different parts of our industries. We have received a good update on how stoda is for the sport. Not least on what they envisage as proportionate measures in the future, says Trettebergstuen to VG.
In December, the government narrowed down the definition of what is “top sport” in football, handball and ice hockey. For the latter two, it meant a complete halt in all combat activity except in the top league.
– The most important thing now is to get the top divisions started. We just have to get the concept of top sports in order. With us, we define it as the top three divisions. We believe the authorities must understand and relate to this, says handball president Kåre Geir Lio.
Kåre Geir Lio – who himself was corona sick this fall – says he is «indomitable optimist». But believes the measures in the last month have not hit well enough. The Norwegian Handball Association postponed its planned NM finals this Christmas.
– I think accuracy in the measures becomes very important now and then you have to look a little for the flash. I think Norway was very good at infection control, but we must have the overall philosophy that we should keep society going and not just operate with restrictions.
– I do not think it will lead to a large increase in infection if, for example, top handball and the rest of the top sports get a little better working conditions. If it turns out to be a lot of looting, then we can just stop.
– Do you also think grassroots sports should open up?
– Yes of course. It is a societal challenge that people are increasingly turning in other directions than sports.