The committee have been closely monitoring the COVID-19 developments and the variable changes to government restrictions throughout the UK. Easing of the restrictions are further ahead in some regions than others but as a national association we need to consider the circumstances throughout the country as a whole.
Although restrictions have started to ease and government guidelines on reducing the spread of the virus are changing, we have always been clear that the BFA can only support the re-start of sanctioned Flyball competitions when it is clearly safe to do so and can be done in accordance with any guidelines issued by the government. The safety of our members and our dogs, and the protection of the NHS is paramount.
Whilst there is a government roadmap on how they see the UK easing out of lockdown, and there will no doubt be many changes between now and August, we don’t see sufficient clear evidence to allow us to sanction BFA Flyball competitions for August. We are therefore announcing the cancellation of the BFA Indoor and Outdoor Championship events and all other sanctioned events for August. The shows affected are:
1st/2nd August – Jets – Highbridge Farm
1st/2nd August – Yorkshire Bouncers - Olivers Mount
8th/9th August – Flea Jumperz – Anstey Park
13th-16th August – BFA Outdoor Championships
21st-23rd August – BFA Indoor Championships
29th-31st August – Hatfield – Haxey Quays (including multibreed)
29th-31st August – Shooting Stars – Cowgate Farm (including multibreed)
Restrictions may well have eased sufficiently by then to allow outdoor gatherings and amateur sport, but it is absolutely clear that the risks posed by the virus will still be present, and we will have members in a high risk category, or caring for people in a high risk category who would be right to make the decision not to attend the Champs. The BFA Champs is about community and inclusivity, and it would not be right to exclude these flyballers from our flagship events.
Furthermore, with an absence of competitive Flyball for 4 months, and severe restrictions on training opportunities, we don’t think it is advisable for anyone to jump straight back into open competition without adequate preparation, which is why we are taking the decision now, not to sanction any other events in August.
We hope that there remains a positive trend in the control of the virus which will allow greater training opportunities over the next few months which would provide the confidence we need to sanction racing in September, subject to government guidelines.
We will continue to closely monitor the situation and if circumstances allow we may be able to support smaller non-sanctioned events in August to help flyballers’ preparations for a sensible and safe return to racing at a later date.
The Committee have already done some contingency planning for such events and pulled together loads of great ideas for training and fun events which could fit around coronavirus restrictions should they ease a little further. So if we all continue to Stay Alert, Control the Virus and Save Lives, with a bit of good fortune, we would hope to be in a position to prepare in August for a potential return to racing in September.