In an announcement on 15 April, Austria has become the first country within the European Union to relax the rules on the practice of sport imposed in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.
The restrictions of recent weeks and the spring weather have increased the need for exercise outside the home. The new rules in Austria could serve as an example to other countries, the principle being to allow as much as possible and restrict as little as possible.
In the mass sports sector, the ban on using leisure facilities for such activities as athletics, tennis, golf, equestrian sports, archery, shooting ranges and gliding is to be lifted as of 1 May; ordinances to this effect are still to follow and only apply for the time being to outdoor activities.
In his capacity as Austrian Minister of Sport, Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler called on the sports associations to issue special recommendations for recreational athletes. In tennis, for example, it could become necessary for each of the two players to serve with their own balls. These could be marked, and the traditional handshake after a match would probably have to be dropped. The indoor areas of the sports facilities concerned (such as cubicles, showers and canteens) should remain closed until further notice.
However, still inconceivable is the opening of outdoor pools on 1 May.
Indoor sports and leisure facilities remain closed for the time being.
Large sports events with spectators are also still prohibited. Crowdless matches exclusively in the Austrian football league are to be made possible. From Monday, football clubs have been authorised to start with training in small groups of up to six players. According to Kogler, it is important that “the same players always train together”.