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The IPC’s update on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) – 12/11/2020

13 November 2020

The purpose of this biweekly update is to keep everyone within the Paralympic Movement informed of the latest developments with the COVID-19 pandemic and how it relates to the Paralympic Games and Para sport.

This week’s update contains the following information:

  • ‘How Denmark adapted and improved shooting Para sport coaching during COVID-19’, by Jonas Jacobsson, Team Denmark

  • Latest updates from Tokyo 2020 and the IPC, including an update on the IOC-IPC Joint Project Review

  • Latest World Health Organisation update, including news of a potential vaccine

After using the last couple of newsletters to give a more detailed sport and Tokyo 2020 updates, we return this week with a fascinating story of how athlete coaching has improved in one Para sport despite COVID-19.

Jonas Jacobsson, the most decorated male Paralympic athlete ever, is the Head Coach of Denmark’s shooting Para sport team. Jacobsson provides an insight into how Team Denmark have improved the quality of their coaching despite the lockdowns and challenges of COVID-19.

He details how they have expanded their use of technology to allow for better analysis and interaction with athletes. Their technology has allowed coaches, such as Jacobsson who lives in Sweden, to work with athletes remotely in Denmark. It’s a system that’s working so well that they will likely continue with it post-COVID and it could be of interest to other coaches around the world across a variety of sports. 

There are further updates from Tokyo 2020 as the pace increases on all the COVID-19 countermeasures needed to deliver a safe and secure Games. This past week has seen the first international sporting competition take place in Tokyo during the COVID-19 period, while next week will see a joint IOC-IPC Project Review.

What is clear is that the team at Tokyo 2020 are delivering a phenomenal effort. There is no manual for reorganising a Games inside a year, and no Organising Committee has had to do deal with the challenges that Tokyo 2020 has had, so we at the IPC appreciate the efforts of all our friends in Japan. They are pulling out all the stops to deliver a Games like no other.

We want this mail to continually highlight initiatives that National Paralympic Committees (NPCs), International Federations (IFs) and athletes are doing. If you would like to let us know about your story or raise awareness of any other initiative, then please get in contact at ipc.media@paralympic.org.

'How Denmark adapted and improved shooting Para sport coaching during COVID-19,'  by Jonas Jacobsson, Team Denmark coach

There is an English proverb that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. In short, it means that people need to find ways to do what they must do, particularly when problems are laid in their path.

Back at the beginning of this year, COVID-19 became the problem that all of us in Para sport had to deal with. Reinvention has become necessary for us all. What we didn’t expect was that it would improve the way we coached in shooting.

Being the head coach of the Danish Paralympic Shooting Team, but living in Sweden, we realised quickly as a team that it would be a good idea to try to find a way to continue with our work and coaching.

We already had a system using Messenger where I could keep in touch with the athletes when I was in Sweden. Because I couldn’t travel to Denmark, we had to work out a way of remotely coaching during training camps.  

Our first attempt was to use a couple of static cameras so I could see live footage from the camp. It wasn’t particularly great as I had to switch between two computers, but it was something we could work on.

It was our technical coach Jens Möllenberg who came up with a better system. He realised that what we needed was more cameras and allow for the system to be controlled remotely.

What we have is a team view, and that allows me from Sweden to take over the computer that is in Denmark and control the cameras. These are positioned around the athletes, so as well as seeing them, I can also view the targets.

We have three different videos at the same time, so I can see how they are shooting from different angles. I have the ability not only to switch between them, but I can also zoom in and out of the targets. I also changed from viewing it on my computer to watching it on my TV, so I have a fantastic big broadcast of what’s taking place.

We’re reinventing and improving everything we did. We’re still using Messenger so I can talk to them, but we’ve also now got a computer in front of each athlete so they can see what I see. If I need to point out something specific, then they get exactly what I mean.

By accident, rather than design, we’ve inadvertently created a better coaching system. It allows us to be more strategic and efficient with the athletes.

When I was at training camps before, I would help one athlete then move to the next one and you’d maybe spend a little bit of time analysing a technical detail. But now, we have the cameras I can spend an hour and a half or two hours fully focused on one individual, and we’re finding it a better way to help the athlete.

The athletes also really like it. Because they can see themselves they get more of a feeling for what they look like. That’s been important, because athletes can instantly get a better view of how they are performing. Analysing video footage is not new, sometimes we would record athletes and talk them through, but that would be afterwards, what’s new is that we’re able to do it in the middle of training.

It’s not completely perfect because we don’t have the human interaction like we do at training camps, but we’re doing a good job of getting as close as we can to them. And the fact that able bodied shooting federation in Denmark are interested in replicating our system would suggest not only are we doing something that works but that it could benefit others around the world.

Now that, much of Europe is in lockdown again, the system is coming into its own again, especially given the bigger numbers of COVID-19.

I’m potentially at risk so I must be careful about what I do, and we also have two athletes that are the same. One of those athletes cannot leave his home, but the amazing thing is that because of the system we have set up, he doesn’t have to. He has a range at his home, and he has set up some cameras at his place, so now I can see him during his training at home and it’s working well.

When things get back to normal, we will probably continue to have this set up. It’s a good use of people’s time and it’s effective. We’ve realised it’s very important to just focus on one athlete instead of helping everybody at the same time.

So, when I return, I might be sitting in the corner somewhere with my computer looking at all the cameras, while the athletes also have their screen in front. The difference this time is, I’ll be able to get up and say something to them. We’ll find that, out of necessity we have invented a better system for everyone. 

Tokyo 2020 & IPC updates

International gymnastics competition in Tokyo scores a perfect 10

On 8 November, the International Gymnastics Federation and Japan Gymnastics Association held the first international competition in Japan featuring athletes arriving from overseas since the Olympic Games postponement.

Around 30 gymnasts from Japan, Russia, China and the USA attended the Friendship and Solidarity competition at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium, which is the venue for Para badminton and Wheelchair rugby at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

A total of 2,000 spectators were able to attend wearing face masks and were socially distanced around the venue.

There was a range of protocols introduced prior and during the event to ensure the safety and security of all athletes, support staff and volunteers.

Landmark IOC-IPC Joint Project Review to take place in Tokyo next week

Next week (Monday, 16 November to Wednesday, 18 November) there will be a Tokyo 2020 Project Review, and this will be held jointly between the International Olympic Committee (IOC), IPC and Tokyo 2020. Usually the IPC and IOC meetings are held separately, but because of continued focus on COVID-19 countermeasures that equally affect both Games, it was decided to hold the Project Review together.

Key dates on COVID-19 countermeasures are:

  • December 2020: interim report on countermeasures to be released by the Japanese three-party council and shared with stakeholders.

  • April/May 2021: COVID-19 countermeasures to be tested at Test Events.

  • May 2021: finalisation of all operational plans and details of operational implementation to be completed.

Fifth coordination meeting for COVID-19 countermeasures at Tokyo 2020

A meeting of the Three-Party Council took place on 12 November to continue the review of various COVID-19 countermeasures for Tokyo 2020. This organisation represents the Government of Japan, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Tokyo 2020.

The meeting focused on:

  • The special entry of athletes and Games staff to Japan

  • Prevention of infection among spectators, both domestic and international

  • The Torch Relay, Live Sites events and host towns

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic competition schedule

The full schedule is available on the Tokyo 2020 website. 

Tokyo 2020 Qualification

The qualification regulations for all 22 sports can be found here: https://www.paralympic.org/tokyo-2020/qualification-criteria

Para sport event postponements and cancellations

The list of cancelled Para sport events remains on the IPC website and is being regularly updated. You can find details here.  

World Health Organisation update

According to WHO’s latest Daily Situation Dashboard on 12 November 2020 10:00 CEST, the number of confirmed worldwide cases has risen to over 51 million, although John Hopkins University of Medicine is reporting that over 34 million people have recovered.

While COVID-19 cases continue to exponentially increase, this week saw the most positive news to come since the beginning of the pandemic. On Monday 9 November, it was announced that there is potential turning point, with the first effective coronavirus vaccine that can prevent more than 90 per cent of people from getting COVID-19.

The developers - Pfizer and BioNTech - described it as a ‘great day for science and humanity’. Their vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised.

The companies plan to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of the month. A limited number of people may get the vaccine this year.

Pfizer and BioNTech say they will have enough safety data by the third week of November to take their vaccine to regulators. Until it has been approved, it will not be possible for countries to begin their vaccination campaigns.

The two companies say they will be able to supply 50 million doses by the end of this year and around 1.3 billion by the end of 2021. Each person needs two doses.

The IPC continues to use the WHO and their site as its main source of information regarding the COVID-19. It provides regular situation reports and have a wide range of guidance on health and protection, travel advice, as well as extensive myth-busting and technical guidance sections

Their 'Key planning recommendations for mass gatherings in the context of COVID-19' guidance can be accessed on this link.

WHO’s WhatsApp messaging service

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