COVID19 and Orienteering

Orienteering might be one of the safest sports in the world when it comes to the risk of contracting the COVID19 virus – we are more or less alone in the outdoors, we compete individually without bodily contact, and we don’t share infrastructure and facilities with other users.

However, we are not perfect in this regard; orienteers love to gather at the Start and Finish, to socialize, to compare route-choices and split times, exchange news, and (since we are environmentally-conscious folks) maybe car-pool to and from the event. While we don’t have fixed facilities, we do usually ‘share’ the orienteering stands, flags and SI units. When the competitive juices start to flow, we can sometimes find ourselves rather close to other runners on the trails, in the woods, and especially racing to punch that control. These are all scenarios that the COVID19 virus can exploit to move from an infected person to a new target, and wreak havoc.

Bearing this in mind, Orienteering Canada moved quickly to develop a pandemic management plan which provides detailed guidance to provincial orienteering organizations and their clubs on how to continue to enjoy orienteering while mitigating the risk factors. The full document is available at this link: http://www.orienteering.ca/resources/covid-19/

Each provincial organization has also developed its specific pandemic Guidelines which are aligned with the Orienteering Canada recommendations. The OBC Guidelines can be found here: https://orienteeringbc.ca/historical-events-results-and-documents/

Perhaps the most important point being made in both the Orienteering Canada and OBC pandemic guidelines is that no orienteering COMPETITIONS are permitted until further notice. All BC Provincial Heath Office regulations must also be adhered to, which includes strict social distancing measures and no gatherings of >50 people.

Electronic timing (SI) can be used in training activities, but not with normal SI sticks – only ‘touchless’ SI Air systems can be used. Since most orienteers still own standard SI sticks, OBC affiliated clubs are each acquiring a supply of SI Air sticks for their members to either borrow, rent or purchase (in BC, viaSport may be providing some financial assistance for the bulk purchase of SI Air sticks by OBC clubs).

Note that the current Orienteering Canada and OBC guidelines will be updated regularly, as we learn more about the transmission of this novel virus, and how best to control it. You should check the above websites regularly, to remain current.

In the meantime, stay well, stay active and stay safe.