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Guidelines issued for the immediate return of canoe polo

British Canoeing has today issued new guidelines to support the immediate return of canoe polo.


The guidelines for a return to canoe polo have been confirmed with the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and in line with the return to recreational team sport framework issued by the government earlier this month.

British Canoeing: Return to Team Activities – Canoe Polo - PDF

The guidelines relate only to England, as policy and guidance in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is subject to the devolved governments and their respective national governing bodies.


Steve Watts, Chair of British Canoe Polo said:

"I’m excited to see the return of competitive polo with a few understandable restrictions in place which will eventually be lifted. I understand that everyone may not want to start competitive polo just yet so a reminder to clubs and players please respect an individual's decision.

“The document has taken a great deal of effort to put together and the guidelines will hopefully assist in helping you and your facility providers get you back on the water playing games as safely as possible."


The purpose of the guidelines issued is to provide the necessary mitigations in order to enable the return of competitive and recreational canoe polo, as part of the easing of social restrictions.

These mitigations will allow for canoe polo to take place whilst maintaining appropriate compliance with social distancing and permitted group sizes.

When clubs decide to return, they must carry out a risk assessment, alongside recording the procedures and checks put in place.

Areas of focus include polo activity prior, during and after, alongside the use of clubhouses and hospitality.  For competitive matches and training sessions the guidelines are:

  • Competitive training can take place for all participants, provided this takes place in groups of no more than 30 (including coaches)
  • Participants should enter the site and prepare their personal equipment whilst maintaining social distancing. Teams will be segregated into separate areas with appropriate space
  • Where possible players should limit sharing of equipment. If they do share equipment, they must practice strict hand hygiene before and after use
  • Any shared equipment must be cleaned before use by another person
  • All participants should sanitise their hands prior to the start of the activity
  • Hand sanitiser should be used at all breaks in activity and prior to consuming any food or drinks
  • Players should refrain from spitting or rinsing out their mouths
  • Individuals should bring their own food and drink. Water bottles or other refreshment containers should in no circumstances be shared
  • Player’s water bottles should be individually labelled to avoid cross contamination
  • Players and coaches should refrain from shouting instructions to members of their team
  • Any spectators (including parents and carers) must be restricted to discrete six-person gathering limits and spread out, in line with wider government guidance, ensuring space for officials, coaches and substitutes
  • Pre/post-match exchange of gifts or handshake should not happen
  • Set plays - referees and coaches should encourage players to get on with the game and not prolong setup play
  • Goal celebrations should be avoided

Measures outlined should be taken by players clubs, officials, volunteers, coaches, and spectators before, during and after all canoe polo activity.

The guidelines should be read in conjunction with the latest UK Government guidance on the phased return of sport and recreation and British Canoeing’s guidance for Paddlesport Clubs, Centres and Hire Providers and Returning to Events.