Safety first – how we’re keeping the teams’ welfare priority
This will be a very different and unique VELUX EHF FINAL4 but one that the EHF and EHF Marketing are committed to make the event safe for everyone who will be involved.
With the health of all participants paramount, all players and officials arriving in Cologne will isolate in a bubble and unable to mix with anybody outside of it. Each team will undergo three tests for Covid-19 – two before departure for the event and one on the day they arrive in Cologne. Only after a receiving a negative test can players and officials move freely within the bubble, in compliance with protective measures.
EHF Marketing managing director David Szlezak said: “We will be doing everything in our power to ensure the health and safety of players and officials are protected.
“We have left no stone unturned in our preparation for the event to be able to give each team the confidence that it will be played in secure surroundings.
“Although it will be a strange experience to witness our most prestigious club competition event without spectators, we respect and understand that regulations enforced by the authorities.”
The ‘bubble’ explained
As soon as teams arrived at the airport in Cologne, they were placed in the so-called ‘bubble’ once they arrived at the hotel.
Players and officials from the clubs are no longer able to have contact with anyone outside the bubble. They arrived on a separate team bus before they were taken to their accommodation and tested once more.
In the hotel teams are living on separate floors with a separate dining room for officials. Training for each team will take place in four different halls, again with strict rules, where nobody from outside the bubble is able to access the floor or surrounding area.
The test regime
To prevent any potentially Covid-19 positive player travelling to Cologne, all four teams underwent a test twice before arriving.
Having arrived in Cologne the entire were tested again at their hotel, with tests carried out with the cooperation of the Wisplinghoff Laboratory in Cologne, one of the leading labs in Germany. Only after a negative test are players able to move freely around the bubble.
Throughout the duration of the event, EHF Marketing will be working in close cooperation with the German health authorities to ensure the protocols are kept in place.
In order to restrict and control movement of personnel who are involved in the event, seven work zones have been designated to prevent any potential spread of Covid-19.
Each zone and the respective assigned group of people will have their own entrance/access to the LANXESS arena. The respective zones have to be entered and left at the designated and marked entrances and exits.
Looking ahead to 2021
The safety protocols in place mean that for the first time, volunteers will not be able to play their special roles in the event.
Every year, around 200 volunteers from all over Europe have actively contributed to the final tournament of the EHF Champions League, with enthusiastic and hard-working faces volunteering in fields of media, logistics, accommodation and visitors.
Given this year’s situation, and in line with the strict health and safety protocols, no volunteers will be on site, with the tasks now undertaken by EHF and EHF Marketing staff.
David Szlezak added: “Volunteers are the beating heart of this event and we are truly saddened that we will not be able to welcome them to Cologne.
“We know many volunteers return year after year in order to play their part at the VELUX EHF FINAL4, but this year we were faced with no option to keep things in-house in order to protect teams and staff.
“Without promising too much, we naturally hope that the 2021 event will be a different proposition.”