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IFSC Regulations for Competition During Pandemic

The IFSC has released an addendum to their rules and regulations. This publication prepares for the return of Sport Climbing competition

On June 8, the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) released its Addendum to IFSC Rules to be used during the covid-19 pandemic. These regulations are the first published by the Climbing During covid-19 Working Group to directly address the format of climbing’s return to competition.

Alannah Yip at PanAm’s  Photo Daniel Gajda.

The Working Group began with the recommendations of the World Health Organization and expanded on them to address the Sport Climbing specific measures that will have to be taken for a safe return to competition. The Addendum has also received contributions from the climbing industry.

In their press release, the IFSC said, “The Addendum, redacted by the Working Group, has also received substantial contributions from various representatives of different parties of the climbing industry – such as the Climbing Wall Association, and the Association of British Climbing Walls, along with climbing gyms representatives from all over the world and several National Federations – who periodically met via teleconference to address the many issues generated by the covid-19 pandemic.”

The Addendum

The document itself is nine pages of newly proposed regulations that will be updated as the pandemic progresses. It begins with a general outline before moving into greater specifics relating to the inclusion of protective equipment, hand sanitizers and contactless thermometers. The IFSC will provide this equipment.

An outline of emergency response protocols is then outlined in case there is a potential positive case of the virus at a competition. The document then explores the new registration format and technical aspects of event planning such as the team registration deadlines and technical meeting details.

Section 4 of the of the document relates directly to the athletes and their common areas. Climbing competitions have long had “holding areas”, commonly referred to as “iso” in short for “isolation.” These areas are typically crowded, but with the new regulations, “Isolation/holding area shall guarantee a minimum of 7.5 square meters per person.” Athletes will also be asked to bring a towel for the competition chairs and mats to prevent the unnecessary exchange of sweat. The warm-up area will be at least 60 square metres and at every point of the competition, from iso to the after-climbing area, frequently touched surface will be cleaned with alcohol or disinfectant.

The competition area will also receive new regulations. In Lead, “Every athlete will climb using their personal rope, ideally provided by their NF (National Federation). It is a decision of every NF to choose between one rope/one athlete and one rope/one team.” Belayers will wear masks as will athletes and officials during observation time. The belay device will be cleaned with alcohol every round.

In Boulder, alcohol-based gel will be used by the athlete before and after every boulder. Hold brushers will no longer be allowed on the mats, athletes shall brush during their rounds at their discretion. After every round, the mats will be cleaned, and scorecards will be replaced with monitors that will display their result.

In Speed, belayers will wear masks and the auto-belays will be cleaned according to producer’s suggestions.

The remaining regulations target personal equipment, health checks, media, and award ceremonies. All decisions relating to the public’s involvement in competition will be left to the organizing country’s rules and regulations. The Addendum itself can be found here.

Though the return to competition will certainly appear different than the format of the past, these steps taken by the IFSC reflect a hope the competition could return with a semblance of normalcy.