(REUTERS) – Organisers of marathons and other endurance events involving mass participation are to be provided with detailed guidelines on how to deal with the threat of contagious diseases, the governing body of athletics said on Friday (April 17).

World Athletics said in a statement that it was setting up a medical task force with representatives from the governing bodies of cycling, skiing, rowing and triathlon to draw up the guidelines.

The International Institute for Race Medicine (IIRM), which promotes the health and safety of athletes at mass participation events, will also be involved.

Although Covid-19 was the main reason for setting up the task force, World Athletics said that other diseases were also a worry.

“Many event organisers have also had to deal with Norovirus and other contagious diseases during the staging of events and this task force will help create guidelines to help reduce the risk of infection,” said World Athletics director of health and science Stephane Bermon.

Among other things, the task force will provide organisers with a risk assessment tool dedicated to determining “the outbreak risk, mitigation plans, and suggestions of contingency plans”.

In addition, organisers and sports federations would be advised on how to plan a return to normal activities in the aftermath of the Covid-19 outbreak “or similar future situations”.

It would also collect and analyse date to determine if Covid-19 survivors “have increased risk of developing illness or injury when participating in endurance events”.

Mass sporting events were among the biggest casualties of the virus, with prestigious runs such as the Boston and London Marathons postponed till the second half of the year.

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