Bio-security protocols

Bio-Safety at the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021


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In 2020 the global onset of the COVID 19 pandemic had a profound impact on elite and recreational sports across the world. This has necessitated that all ICC Events be played and staged for the next 12 - 18 months with some form of biosafety measures in place.

A key recommendation of the ICC Medical Advisory Committee (ICC MAC) was to constitute for each ICC Event, a Biosafety Scientific Advisory Group (BSAG) who will review and advise the Event Technical Committee on all medical and operational COVID19 related matters that impact the health, wellbeing and staging of the Event.

The BSAG enables the Event Technical Committee to have immediate access to expert advice on medical and scientific aspects of any COVID19 related issues that impact participant health and welfare. In April 2021, the Terms of Reference for the BSAG was drafted and approved by the ICC MAC. The BSAG members will be nominated in advance of the tournament and would include, as a minimum:

· Independent Medical Practitioner – Chair

· ICC COVID Compliance Officer (this will usually be the ICC Security Manager)

· Host Board CMO

· ICC Tournament Director

· Medical and scientific experts potentially encompassing infectious diseases, public health and epidemiology as required

The four key principles within which the BSAG operate are:

· Safety first

· Government Regulation

· Education

· Risk Assessment & Mitigation

The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 (hosted by India and played in the UAE & Oman) which took place from 17th October to 14th November 2021 was the first multiple team ICC Event to be held during the Covid19 pandemic. A detailed Biosafety Plan for the Event went through several layers of approval processes which also included discussions with each squad medical staff before circulation to the wider group of participants. All participants were fully vaccinated by a WHO-approved vaccine as a requirement of the UAE/Oman governments as a condition of staging the event.

The plan covered:

Entry requirements to the MEE (Managed Event Environment): All participants who were identified to be within the MEE (including players, support staff, match officials, broadcast, production, match management, drivers) had to go through a ‘cleaning process'. This entailed a quarantine period for 6 clear days with 3 PCR tests. Some participants who were already part of the MEE in another Event were allowed to ‘bridge’ in with a 1-day quarantine and a PCR.

Entry requirements to the Venues: Abu Dhabi had a requirement of PCR tests every 3 days, Oman required a test, while Dubai & Sharjah moved to a ‘no test’ required. However, as a precaution, all Event staff were tested on a regular basis.

Accommodation: Prior to the commencement of the event, hotels were inspected, and biosafety protocols were agreed upon. All hotel staff who were servicing the participants were within the MEE and on the ICC testing plan for the Event. Separate dining areas were allocated to each cohort within the MEE. Timings were allocated for use of gyms and swimming pools.

Testing: All participants were on a regular testing plan and enhanced testing when travelling. Daily health monitoring by each team medical doctor ensured the members were fit to play and the MEE was safe. To illustrate the complexity of the testing program over 14,500 PCR tests were conducted across the event.

Venues: All venues were sanitised on a regular basis and venue-based staff were on a testing plan. Players & Match Officials Area (PMOA) had restricted entry to only MEE participants.

Travel/Transport: Air travel to/from Oman for participants within the MEE were on charter flights. Team buses and cars allocated to participants were sanitised on a regular basis and the drivers were also tested regularly and housed within the MEE.

Biosafety protocols & implementation: Two Biosafety officers were assigned to each team, each Match Officials cohort and each Broadcast and Production team. The officers reported to the Event Chief Medical Officer (CMO) daily. The CMO, ICC Covid Compliance Officers (3) had daily meetings which were followed by the regular BSAG meetings.

The event was conducted successfully with no COVID related dislocation and with the health of participants safeguarded. A full debrief has taken place and been used to inform future ICC events so we are a learning organization.

In summary, staging events with biosafety is a very challenging and complex undertaking and should not be underestimated; biosafety touches all areas of event management. We are constantly learning as different challenges, such as the emergence of the Omicron variant, are presented. Biosafety is truly a gift that keeps on giving!

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