Re-open Victorian Gymnastics Clubs When Schools Resume Face-to-Face Learning.

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Gymnastics classes for children can be run safely indoors. This is especially true in regional Victoria, where many clubs are in LGAs that have not recorded a new COVID-19 case for many weeks.

Gymnastics clubs are not fitness or adult gyms. Gymnastics clubs are unique, and many aspects of gymnastic club operations already make them safe. Additionally, the services they provide are important for the health and well-being of children in Victoria.

  1. Gymnastics is an individual activity with no physical contact between participants, done in a large space with high ceilings. Even the smallest venues have a footprint of around 400 sqm and a ceiling height of 6m. Because of the large amount of space, physical distancing between athletes happens naturally, and there is a good airflow throughout gymnastics club venues.
  2. Gymnastics classes are usually not big, and almost all the participants are children. If it is deemed safe for children to return to school, it should be safe for children to participate in a non-contact indoor sport. In addition, gymnastics classes are different to school classes and many other indoor sports because groups are smaller and spread out over a large area. Athletes can train in groups as small as five, and even pre-COVID there were usually only 8-10 athletes in a group. The same coaches work with the same groups from week to week.
  3. Gymnastics can't be done outdoors. While some skills require just a foam wedge or thin mat, most gymnasts need large apparatus surrounded by thick matting to train on. In addition to matting, some apparatuses need to be fixed to the floor, which makes it impossible to move them.
  4. One in three Australian children are expected to be overweight or obese by 2025. Gymnastics clubs have been closed since the end of March, with exception of a few weeks in July. Without community and junior sport this problem will get worse. Gymnastics clubs provide opportunities for children to get exercise in a safe environment. It also underscores the importance of government support of Victorian Gymnastics Clubs and Gymnastics Victoria, which has the capability and content to develop sound foundation movement skills.
  5. Over 2,500 professional coaches and judge members, through clubs throughout the state. Four out of five (82%) of this cohort are female and three out of five (63%) are under 25; for the sustainability of our sport it is vital that government support is provided to facilitate our re-opening.
  6. Gymnastics is one of the fastest growing sports in Australia, with 60% growth since 2013. Victorian Gymnastics Clubs and their member participants can play an enormous role in Victoria’s COVID-19 economic recovery. Without a strong and connected gymnastics community, this contribution could be lost at a time when the Victorian economy needs it most.

More difficult to measure are the impacts on confidence and other foundation and life skills gymnastic participants learn through involvement in our sport. Resilience and strong cognitive abilities are by-products of organised competition, underscoring the importance of support for our participants and a pathway back to gymnastics.

It is unreasonable to ask gymnastics clubs to wait until the Last Step of the Roadmap to Recovery - zero cases across Victoria for 14 days - to run indoor classes. That might not happen until 2021, if at all. The states of New South Wales and Queensland are still recording new cases of COVID-19 daily.

Children's gymnastics classes can run safely indoors because of the unique nature of the sport. Gymnastics clubs must be allowed to run indoor classes at the same time as Victorian schools return to face-to-face learning.