USA Ultimate Response to Coronavirus

Posted: March 3, 2020 10:28 AM
 

April 3 Update

Impact of COVID-19 on USA Ultimate was the Primary Topic of Discussion at March Board of Directors Meeting

The USA Ultimate Board of Directors conducted its first quarterly meeting of 2020 on Saturday, March 28. Along with the organization’s leadership staff, the 13-person board discussed a variety of topics in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The major focus of the meeting was on the challenges facing our sport and organization during the coronavirus outbreak, the serious financial stress USA Ultimate will encounter and some of the actions that are being taken to mitigate the impact.

For a complete update, read the full report here
 


April 3 Update

International Component of U.S. Open Club Championships Cancelled

USA Ultimate made the difficult decision today to cancel the international element of the 2020 U.S. Open Club Championships. With the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on USA Ultimate events, and with other international events like the WFDF World Championships and the Olympic Games postponing for safety reasons, we could not in good faith continue to plan for an international event during the same timeframe. USA Ultimate is currently evaluating whether to replace those international teams with domestic squads, or move forward with smaller fields. The international component – one of the defining elements of the U.S. Open since its inception in 2012 – will return in 2021.
 


March 27 Update

USA Ultimate Postpones 2020 D-I and D-III College Championships

USA Ultimate officially announced today the postponement of both the Division I and Division III College Championships due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The D-III championships were scheduled for May 16-17 in Obetz, Ohio, while the D-I championships were set for May 22-25 in Milwaukee.

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) ongoing recommendation to suspend mass gatherings, state public health emergencies declared in Ohio and Wisconsin, increased government lockdowns, extended closures of athletic facilities, virtually all colleges and universities limiting travel and activity of its sports teams for the remainder of the school year, and the uncertainty surrounding the duration of these restrictions and the future impact of the outbreak, it’s evident that these events can no longer continue as planned in a safe and fair manner.

Since the emergence of the coronavirus, USA Ultimate has continued to emphasize the health, safety and well-being of its members, volunteers, staff, fans and the community at large as its most important concern. With that priority in mind, and after continued consultation with its college and medical working groups, event organizers and local partners, USA Ultimate has shifted its efforts to rescheduling the tournaments for a later date in 2020. Before any firm plans can be put into place, USA Ultimate, along with its community volunteers, must together analyze and consider a variety of factors, including student-athlete eligibility issues, conflict with club division events, competition structures and formats, university calendars and club sports department regulations, venue availability and the continued, unknown future impact of COVID-19.

"It hits us all with especially heavy hearts to know that the college championship events are being postponed," commented USA Ultimate Board of Directors President Robyn Fennig. "I know that the college working group, volunteers and staff at USA Ultimate will come up with the best contingency option given the circumstances for a national championship to highlight the college division while considering the complexities of eligibility and with fairness in mind. I hope that everyone impacted by this decision knows how much we worked to avoid this as the window to compete in this division is so limited.  The college division really announces the start of our competition calendar in a typical year, but we look forward to a fall option that helps us punctuate the end of a tough 2020 calendar year with some optimism and celebration."  

While USA Ultimate regrets not being able to bring these events to Columbus and Milwaukee this spring, we are currently working with Uihlein Soccer Park, Visit Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Ultimate Club to bring the 2021 edition of the College Championships back to southeastern Wisconsin on its traditional Memorial Day weekend. We have also initiated discussions with 2020 D-III championship co-organizer, Oshadega, LLC, to inquire about the possibility of hosting the 2021 event.

USA Ultimate staff is also continuing the conversation with its college working group and key volunteers as it considers the idea of extending an additional year of eligibility to a subset of student-athletes affected by the shortened regular season and cancelled or postponed championship series events. Once a determination has been made, it will be communicated publicly.
 



March 24 Update

2020 WFDF World Championships Cancelled or Postponed

In response to today’s press release from the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) announcing the cancellation or postponement of three 2020 world championship events – the 2020 World Ultimate & Guts Championships (WUGC), the 2020 World Junior Ultimate Championships (WJUC) and the 2020 World Masters Ultimate Championships (WMUC), USA Ultimate has issued the following statement:

After witnessing firsthand and knowing how much energy, effort and commitment our athletes put into being a part of the 2020 U.S. National Team, we understand the disappointment and sadness they must feel after this decision. Being chosen to represent the United Sates for international competition – especially after an extremely competitive tryout and selection process – is one of the highest honors an athlete can achieve in any sport. For those athletes, this is an accomplishment that can never be taken away and this unfortunate outcome does not lessen that achievement.

That said, we appreciate and fully support WFDF’s decision and the amount of thought and consideration that went into it. We know it was not an easy decision to make, but believe that it was the right one under the circumstances. Like WFDF, the health, safety and well-being of our members and the greater ultimate community stands alone as our top priority as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Despite this setback, we are confident that many more incredible competitive opportunities will exist for these athletes in the future, including the chance to play for a future U.S. National Team. We look forward to watching those moments unfold and supporting those athletes however we can. 

"These Team USA athletes inspire us every day and we share in the community’s sadness and disappointment in light of this development," commented USA Ultimate Chief Executive Officer Tom Crawford. "In no way does this diminish the fact that these athletes were chosen for their athleticism, spirit and character to proudly represent the United States on our sport’s biggest stage, and would have done so in a way that made us all very proud. They are forever a part of our national team program and we look forward to creating new opportunities for them to pursue their dreams and excel on the international scene for years to come."

"It is also a time for us to come together as a community and commit to keeping everyone safe and healthy as we work our way through this very difficult time," continued Crawford. "I wish peace and wellness to all, and sincerely thank these athletes for their amazing commitment to our beautiful sport."
 



March 20 Update 
 

USA Ultimate Exploring Options for College Championships

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect our sport, community and organization, we are continuing to closely monitor the situation and its unprecedented impact. Like the rest of the world, we are keeping a close eye on the latest developments.

For USA Ultimate teams and athletes whose season has already been affected or is being threatened, please know that we are carefully considering and developing a wide variety of options for future playing opportunities. Again, please bear with us as we react and respond to this unpredictable situation and assess viable contingency plans.

While the health, safety and well-being of our members, volunteers, staff, families and fans will continue to be our main priority, finding alternatives to affected (or potentially affected) events like high school state championships, national team training camps, the beach championships and college championship tournaments is also a high priority. There are no guarantees that all (or any) of these events will happen, but we are working to the best of our ability to ensure that they do, at a time and place that is safe and appropriate for everyone.

More specifically, we wanted to provide an update on the status of the college championship tournaments, which currently fall just outside the latest eight-week CDC recommendation against mass gatherings of more than 50 people.

Despite the unfortunate cancellation of activity through May 10, including regular season tournaments and conference and regional championships, both the D-III and D-I College Championships are still scheduled for late May in Ohio and Wisconsin, respectively. However, given the uncertainty of future CDC recommendations and additional restrictions imposed by local, state or federal governments, as well as travel limitations placed on student-athletes by many colleges and universities through the end of May, it is improbable that these events will occur as planned. While we are hoping for the best, we are simultaneously preparing for the worst.

We are currently discussing and exploring a variety of options to host a combined D-I and D-III championship event later in 2020. Providing an opportunity for our student-athletes in the college division to properly prepare and compete for a national title is important to us. We are doing our best to make contingency plans; however, there are many challenges to overcome and complications to consider. These include a potential overlap with the club season, eligibility issues, university club sports’ regulations and venue availability as many NGBs and sports leagues scramble to reschedule events and book sites in the summer and fall.

"Even in the midst of chaos, the staff and key volunteers at USA Ultimate continue to show dedication to our sport and community," commented USA Ultimate Board of Directors President Robyn Fennig. "They are brainstorming with organizers, host communities and volunteers to find creative solutions that will give our community the opportunity to showcase the spirit of our sport. As a coach, athlete, organizer and volunteer myself, I’m feeling a lot of the same things you all are feeling. In a time where we are being bombarded with cancellations and restrictions, we should feel positive energy in knowing that our staff is as dedicated as we are to making ultimate happen again soon."

Our staff is continuing to work closely with national directors, our college working group and our medical working group to identify and consider potential options. If and when there are any changes to the current status of the D-III and D-I College Championships, we will communicate publicly via our website and social media platforms.

For U.S. National Team athletes wondering about the status of either the WUGC or WJUC events currently scheduled for July, WFDF issued a statement this morning

In the meantime, we strongly recommend that everyone in our community adheres to the latest CDC recommendations and any local, state or federal government mandates. Please continue to self-isolate and take the necessary precautions to stay safe and keep those around you healthy.
 



March 16 Update 
 

USA Ultimate Extends Period of Inactivity Through May 10, Cancels College Regionals

The events of the past few weeks are unprecedented. As we continue to navigate these unchartered waters, we ask everyone to bear with us while we evaluate and respond to this incredibly challenging and rapidly evolving situation and the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on our community and organization.

We will continue to adhere to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health department recommendations and follow the advice of health professionals and our medical working group.

Yesterday, the CDC issued a recommendation that for the next eight weeks, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events consisting of 50 people or more throughout the U.S. to protect against exposure to COVID-19. As a result, USA Ultimate is canceling or postponing events (or rescinding sanctioning) through May 10.

Major USA Ultimate events affected by this latest recommendation include all college regional championships, the Beach Championships and select high school state championships.

Effective immediately, all college regional championships are canceled. 

Currently, both the D-III College Championships (May 16-17) and the D-I College Championships (May 22-25) are still scheduled to occur, pending future CDC or individual state health department directives or recommendations and school policies. Discussions about how to best select teams for these events are ongoing and updates will be provided as decisions are made. As the health, safety and well-being of our members, staff, volunteers, fans, partners and their families remain our top priority, we will continue to evaluate the situation on a daily basis and only hold these events if considered safe to do so by health and medical experts.

The USA Ultimate Beach Championships, scheduled for May 9-10, in Virginia Beach, have been indefinitely postponed. We are working closely with our local partners in Virginia Beach and will continue to reassess the viability of hosting the event sometime in 2020, and will provide future updates as they become available.  We will soon be reaching out via email to all registered teams about refunding player fees and to address any other questions. 

All high school state championship tournaments scheduled to occur before May 10 are also being postponed with the hopes of rescheduling at a later date.

USA Ultimate is no longer sanctioning any events through May 10 and strongly recommends that all event organizers cancel or postpone events accordingly.

"The health and safety of our members, families and communities continues to be our top priority at USA Ultimate," explained board president Robyn Fennig. "To the athletes, coaches, organizers, volunteers and communities impacted directly by the cancellation of events, we empathize with your frustrations and disappointment, and simultaneously appreciate your support in knowing this is the safe thing to do. These times are unprecedented and please know that these decisions are being made in compliance with recommendations set forth by public health experts. Please be safe and take care of each other through the difficult times ahead." 

Understandably, there have been many questions we cannot yet answer, but we would like to acknowledge what we know so far, including:

College Eligibility: We have not yet had this conversation as we have been focused on different scenarios to salvage the current college season while prioritizing the health and safety of our student-athletes. At some point, we will discuss with the appropriate groups, including staff, national directors, the college and eligibility working groups, and board of directors. Once a formal determination has been made, we will communicate it publicly.

Membership Refunds: USA Ultimate is not immediately issuing any refunds, as we are hopeful that ultimate will continue later in the year, and members will have opportunities to use their memberships. However, in light of this unique and extraordinary situation, including cancellations thus far, we are examining our current refund policy. Please be patient as we seek the input of our board of directors and work through all of the possible scenarios for individual memberships that are not used during the calendar year and the rest of the year’s competitive opportunities.  

Masters Series, YCC and Club Season (Triple Crown Tour): We remain hopeful that the masters series, YCC and club season (Triple Crown Tour) will proceed as usual; however, we are beginning to see an impact on early season events, such as tryouts and other organized team activities that are planned in the spring. We will continue to evaluate all options and make modifications if and when necessary. We are cautiously optimistic that ultimate activity will return to normal once the threat to our community passes.  

Thank you for your support, patience and understanding as we continue to weather this storm. Please stay tuned to usaultimate.org or our social media channels for any additional updates.

 



March 12 Update - 4:00 p.m. MT

USA Ultimate Suspends Activity Through April 20

In response to the COVID-19 public health threat and the high level of uncertainty surrounding this global pandemic, all USA Ultimate-managed events scheduled through April 20 – including all college conference championship tournaments – have been cancelled.

USA Ultimate has also revoked its sanctioning of all tournaments and leagues through April 20 and strongly recommends that all event organizers cancel their events.

The decision was made after days of thorough dialogue with members of the USA Ultimate Board of Directors, headquarters staff, key community volunteers, and the organization’s medical working group and careful review of various recommendations from public health authorities and state governments. 

"We know some of you will be disappointed and frustrated with some tough decisions, and they were not made lightly," commented USA Ultimate Board of Directors President Robyn Fennig. "The health and safety of our members, athletes, families and communities are paramount. This is a very challenging time and we are all heading toward uncharted waters. Please be safe, and take care of each other through this difficult time. Thank you for everyone’s cooperation."

USA Ultimate will continue to gather information and evaluate the viability of events scheduled for after April 20. Currently, the D-I and D-III College Championships have not been affected by these cancellations and will continue as planned if permitted by state or local governments and deemed safe. Ultimately, if the safety of athletes and attendees cannot be ensured it is likely these events will not occur. 

USA Ultimate will be communicating privately with event organizers in the coming days to address other sanctioned events.

Please stay tuned to usaultimate.org or our social media platforms for any additional updates.

 


March 12 Update

USA Ultimate Makes Adjustments to College Season

Last evening, USA Ultimate’s college working group met with USA Ultimate staff to discuss adjustments to the college season given the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation and the effect it is having on regular season tournaments and the ability for teams to travel and compete.

As such, USA Ultimate is providing the following updates: 

  • The number of regular season games required to be included in the official rankings that impact postseason bid allocation has been reduced from 10 to five. In some instances, USA Ultimate may review the rankings for connectivity. For example, ranked teams that have no connection to the majority of the other ranked teams will not be considered for postseason bid allocations.

  • USA Ultimate expects teams that have had their activities suspended or restricted by their schools to abide by those policies. In the interest of health and safety, only teams that are affiliated with and authorized by their schools to participate in events will be permitted to do so at USA Ultimate sanctioned events. 

  • The USA Ultimate College Working Group and staff will convene regularly to review and address developments as they occur and make continued adjustments as necessary. Additional changes to the college guidelines and the use of rankings to advance teams as fairly as possible if postseason tournaments are cancelled are being considered. 

  • USA Ultimate is considering all possible scenarios for events and activities over the next few weeks and months. This includes but is not limited to the cancellation of some upcoming regular season and postseason events, as well as the possibility of cancelling all events up to and including national championships.

This continues to be a rapidly changing situation, and currently, all options are being considered. The health and safety of our members, volunteers and staff remain our top priority, and we strongly encourage everyone to follow the recommendations of their local and state health departments, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and/or school policy. 

USA Ultimate continues to recommend taking the following precautions when attending any tournaments or events, regardless of whether or not they are ultimate related. 

  • Most importantly, if you have a fever or respiratory illness, or symptoms such as sneezing or coughing, please stay home.

  • Avoid contact with sick people. If you’re sick, limit contact with others.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Cover your nose and mouth with something disposable (like a tissue) when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

  • Clean frequently touched items (cell phones, airplane seating area and tray table, screens, windows, arm rests, air vents, etc.).

  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.

  • Where it is available, bring extra hand sanitizer with you to all events.

  • Stay informed and follow the advice of medical professionals.

At ultimate events, we recommend you consider:

  • Regularly disinfecting the disc(s) you are using (e.g. wipes or sanitzer). 

  • Not sharing water bottles or community snacks.

  • Avoiding shaking hands or giving high-fives. 

  • Not doing a spirit circle. 

______________


More Information

  



March 11 Update

USA Ultimate continues to monitor the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, particularly as it relates to the college regular season, the postseason championship series and upcoming high school state championship tournaments this spring. 

As previously stated, the health, safety and well-being of the ultimate community, including athletes, volunteers and staff, and their families, continues to be our number-one priority. We are continuing to review updates and follow the recommendations from the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) Coronavirus Task Force, various local and/or state health departments and USA Ultimate’s medical working group.  

We realize that there is a growing number of colleges, universities and high schools that have either prohibited travel for school-sponsored teams and athletes or temporarily banned events or group activities (including ultimate tournaments) from occurring on campus.  While we are still gathering information and working hard to thoroughly understand which teams and events are being impacted so that we can consider reasonable and fair adjustments, we can provide the following updates:

  • Some college regular season events have been cancelled, while others are proceeding as planned. We are monitoring this and providing information and advice to event organizers as needed. We will continue to rely on local authorities and health care officials to determine the appropriate measures for events in each area of the country.

  • Some schools have implemented policies that prevent teams from traveling or competing, either temporarily or for the remainder of the school year, while others are allowing activities to continue. We are monitoring this and strongly encourage teams to respect and follow school policy and advice from local authorities and health care officials. 

  • Some conference and regional tournaments hosted on college campuses are at risk of being rescheduled, relocated or postponed. We are currently exploring contingency plans for those tournaments. Currently there have been no cancellations of any postseason tournament, however that could change.

  • USA Ultimate staff, the college working group and the rankings working group are meeting this evening to discuss potential adjustments to the regular season and/or postseason to prioritize health and safety while still providing a fair opportunity to continue with events whenever and wherever possible.

  • The college season is without question being impacted and will continue to be. While we can reasonably anticipate some of the challenges, others are unforeseeable. We have not yet cancelled any events (excepting events cancelled or adjusted by local authorities and circumstances beyond our control.) More updates about potential adjustments to the college season will be made available as we have them.   

USA Ultimate continues to recommend taking the following precautions when attending any tournaments or events, regardless of whether or not they are ultimate related. 

  • Most importantly, if you have a fever or respiratory illness, or symptoms such as sneezing or coughing, please stay home.

  • Avoid contact with sick people. If you’re sick, limit contact with others.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Cover your nose and mouth with something disposable (like a tissue) when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

  • Clean frequently touched items (cell phones, airplane seating area and tray table, screens, windows, arm rests, air vents, etc.).

  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.

  • Where it is available, bring extra hand sanitizer with you to all events.

  • Stay informed and follow the advice of medical professionals.

At ultimate events, we recommend you consider:

  • Regularly disinfecting the disc(s) you are using (e.g. wipes or sanitzer). 

  • Not sharing water bottles or community snacks.

  • Avoiding shaking hands or giving high-fives. 

  • Not doing a spirit circle. 


 



March 6 Update
 

Dear USA Ultimate Community, 

Since we released our initial response to the COVID-19 situation early this week, the USA Ultimate staff has been continually monitoring updates and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and numerous other sources, including the chair of our medical working group. 

The safety of our members and athletes is always our top priority. As such, we encourage you to take precautions to protect yourself and those around you. Also consider the health and situation of those you interact with regularly: family, friends, teammates, coworkers, etc.   

Precautions:

  • Most importantly, if you have a fever or respiratory illness, or symptoms such as sneezing or coughing, please stay home.

  • Avoid contact with sick people. If you’re sick, limit contact with others.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Cover your nose and mouth with something disposable (like a tissue) when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

  • Clean frequently touched items (cell phones, airplane seating area and tray table, screens, windows, arm rests, air vents, etc.).

  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.

  • Where it is available, bring extra hand sanitizer with you to all events.

  • Stay informed and follow the advice of medical professionals. 

At this time, risk of contracting the Coronavirus in the United States is still low. People in areas where community spread of the virus has been confirmed are at elevated, but still relatively low, risk of exposure (CDC). As a result, USA Ultimate has not made the decision to cancel or postpone any events at this time. 

For anyone competing in an upcoming event, we recommend taking additional precautions to protect yourself and others. Consider:

  • Regularly disinfecting the disc(s) you are using (e.g. wipes or sanitzer). 

  • Not sharing water bottles or community snacks.

  • Avoiding shaking hands or giving high-fives. 

  • Not doing a spirit circle. 

If you are planning to attend an event for which you will need to purchase airfare or make lodging arrangements, we recommend waiting until approximately four weeks prior to the event, or as long as you can reasonably wait, to make those arrangements. Some events may be postponed or cancelled due to new and evolving university or city policies.  

The situation is evolving constantly and quickly. We will continue to share updates regarding best practices for locally organized events, as well as any decisions made about upcoming USA Ultimate-run events.

First and foremost, take care of yourself and those around you. 

Thank you for being a part of the USA Ultimate community!

 



March 3 Statement

The safety of our members, spectators and staff is our paramount concern.

As we head into the heart of our tournament season with many people on the move, I want to share what we know right now and our plans going forward as they relate to the Coronavirus disease. In analyzing all of the data, USA Ultimate has determined that it would be premature to postpone or cancel tournaments at this time as the risk is still fairly low in the United States. That being said, we are closely monitoring the situation on a daily basis and may alter our decision very quickly should the need arise. We will also follow any guidance from the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

USA Ultimate will also follow recommended health precautionary measures from the CDC and the USOPC Coronavirus Task Force and any event-specific protocols that will be adjusted as a result of the virus. Given the fluidity of this matter, decisions regarding each event will be determined independently as factors affecting one may not affect another. We are working with each of the local authorities and event venues to increase safety measures. Also, lots of information is available from the CDC on most frequently asked questions, and we encourage everyone to read this information.

- Tom Crawford, CEO, USA Ultimate
 



Proactive Precautions to Take

  • Most importantly, if you have a respiratory illness or fever, please stay home.

  • Get a flu vaccine.

  • Avoid contact with sick people (if you’re sick, limit contact with others).

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Cover your nose and mouth with something disposable (like a tissue) when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

  • Clean frequently touched items (cell phones, airplane seating area -tray table, screens, windows, arm rests, air vents, etc.).

  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.

  • It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

  • Bring extra hand sanitizer with you to all events.


More Information