The Angling Trust reports: The global pandemic resulted in most home nations and international championships being either cancelled or postponed during 2020 and while many restrictions are being eased in the UK, Covid-19 continues to have an impact on the ability for our national teams to travel and participate in this year’s World and European championships.
Having consulted with team managers recently, it became clear that some national teams have already taken the decision not to compete this year. However, a number have indicated their desire to compete in their respective events and we have worked tirelessly over the past few weeks to clarify the position on travel restrictions and Covid-19 insurance cover for group travel, to enable these teams to compete.
The government’s Elite Sports Exemption Policy enables professional, Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth athletes and teams to travel overseas to train and compete in international competitions. Unfortunately, angling does not qualify for this exemption and is therefore subject to the same travel restrictions faced by other amateur sports and UK citizens.
The government’s Foreign Office currently advise against all but essential travel to countries placed on the amber or red list and travelling to compete in an amateur sporting event is not considered essential. This means that as of today’s date, our national teams can only travel to compete in countries on the green list. In addition to the difficulties around travel restrictions, providing adequate travel insurance that includes Covid-19 cover is currently very problematic.
Throughout the pandemic and the When We Fish Again campaign, the Angling Trust has worked with the government to ensure that angling is viewed as part of the solution and not part of the problem and as the recognised Governing Body for Angling in England, maintaining the health and wellbeing of international team members on international duty is an absolute priority.
However, we must emphasise that we consider this a very fluid situation and remain committed to sending teams to compete in international competitions where government travel restrictions allow, appropriate travel insurance is available, and the host nation has adequate Covid-19 safety protocols in place.
Following an extremely positive, open and constructive consultation meeting held last night (June 14th) with national team managers from all disciplines, we have agreed to monitor the emerging international event calendar and work with individual managers to establish bespoke “go or no go” timelines for their events and to continue with our efforts to source appropriate travel insurance and monitor government travel restrictions to permit entry and travel.
Ultimately, when the criteria on travel and insurance can be satisfied, the Angling Trust will give each team the freedom to make its own decision on whether they wish to travel or not. Managers, coaches, anglers and support personnel must feel safe and comfortable with the situation.
Rob Hughes, Carp Team England Manager, said: “Obviously we really want to compete in the Ukraine this year, but we are very mindful of the challenges faced in a number of areas, especially those regarding travel and our and the host nation’s government regulations. It’s a time to be fluid, and if we can go, we will. If not, we’re happy to respect the decision of both the government and the Trust.”
Paul Page, of Team England Fly Fishing, said: “As soon as we are allowed to enter international championships this year, we have teams eager and ready to get back to competitive fly fishing.“
Mark Downes, Team England Nations, Euros and U25 Manager, said: “Competing on the international circuit is massively important for the integrity of match fishing here in the UK. Sadly, in these difficult times, where international travel has been severely curtailed and many world events are in jeopardy, we must make sure that when the opportunity arises, we take every step to return to the international arena.
“Obviously, all events are governed by travel restrictions both to and from the host countries and we must always ensure that we do not break the host government’s or our government’s advice. However, the situation is extremely fluid and changes on a weekly basis, so as soon as the opportunity arises, we will be ready and prepared to move at a moment’s notice.”
Jamie Cook, Angling Trust CEO. said: “We all wish to see the return of international competitions and will continue to monitor the situation regarding travel and government restrictions and work closely with our team managers. We have worked extremely hard to ensure anglers adhere to government guidance and we were able to maintain both participation and competitions though lockdowns as a result. We must continue to act responsibly and when permitted, the Angling Trust will do all it can to support our teams to enable them to compete safely abroad in their quest for World and European medals.”