A number of leading sports NGOs have joined with the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) to launch a campaign calling for independently-assessed health and safety practices at sports venues.
Sport and Sustainability International (SandSI), Green Sports Alliance (GSA), Sports Environment Alliance (SEA), Golf Environment Organization and EcoAthletes are among those working with IWBI to promote the importance of independent assessments to be introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The partners will look to encourage all sports federations, leagues, venues and teams to enhance their venues’ health and safety protocols and assure that protocols are assessed by "a credible third party" that focuses on health and facility operations.
Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, chair of SandSI’s board – and environmental science advisor to the New York Yankees – said: "Addressing the pandemic from a global perspective is of the utmost importance.
"We need a coordinated global effort to give fans confidence that their favorite teams and venues are taking every precaution so they can feel confident returning to the stadiums and arenas.”
IWBI president and CEO, Rachel Hodgdon, added: “We know that there are myriad league and organizational protocols that have been established and a patchwork of varying municipal, regional and national guidelines that have been laid out.
"But our customers needed something that could help them communicate clearly and succinctly that the health and well-being of their employees, guests and community stakeholders were the top priority and specific strategies were being implemented, built on the available science.”
During the campaign, the partners will promote the WELL Health-Safety Rating as a possible solution.
The protocol was developed in response to acute health threats, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and focuses on operational policies, maintenance protocols, emergency plans and stakeholder engagement.
It was designed to help organisations to prioritise the health of their staff, visitors and stakeholders and more than 30 sports and entertainment venues have enrolled in or achieved the rating since September 2020.
Roger McClendon, executive director, Green Sports Alliance, said: "The number one priority of sports teams, leagues, and venues is to get fans back in the stands safely.
"Helping ensure the health and wellness of employees, players, and fans within arenas and stadiums so they can confidently experience the thrill of live sports together continues to be a major focus for the Green Sports Alliance.
"IWBI and the WELL Health-Safety Rating are valuable resources to ensure that Green Sports Alliance members have the expert science, knowledge, tools and procedures to help provide a safer environment for everyone."