This paper focuses on the potential impacts of COVID-19 on children associated with sport. It was compiled based on the input of 37 experts and practitioners in the fields of child rights, protection, and safeguarding in sport. In addition to facilitating an exchange of information on the topic, it brings together observations and concerns for the consideration of decision makers and others with influence over policies, resource allocations and programming related to children and sport as the world builds back from the pandemic.
The key impacts are discussed in four main areas: (1) on-going sport, (2) the absence of sport, (3) children in vulnerable and special situations, and (4) future impacts and concerns. The paper further considers perspectives of children, opportunities, and provides a call for action.
Among a recommendation, the paper mentions that it is key to create and/or reinforce safeguarding policies in sports organisations both during the crisis and upon the reopening of their activities. Organisations involved in eSport should ensure the development and implementation of safeguarding policies to reflect online risks, outline acceptable conduct, define measures to prevent online harassment and abuse, provide guidelines on reporting and access to remedy. Sports/teams which are not digitally native but which have looked to online solutions to provide continuity of training and/or communication during COVID-19 should update safeguarding policies to include special provisions related to online protection.
Among opportunities, the paper highlights to use this time of reflection and self-assessment to ensure that sport is a safe space when children are able to return to participate or compete. This can be facilitated through reviewing current policies and practices against the International Safeguards for Children in Sport. There is also an opportunity to further promote child safeguarding in sport as a policy and a concrete measure to preserve children’s rights and best interests in a crisis context. For organisations where child safeguarding in sport policies have yet to be implemented, or have not been recently reviewed or tested, the hiatus in sport activities provides an opportunity to ensure that policies are implemented and reviewed to ensure maximum effectiveness for the benefit of children when sport recommences.
You can read the full paper here.