21 Mar. 2020
Dear handball family,
With the current situation concerning COVID-19, our handball community and the sporting world at large finds itself in a challenging time. As IHF President and on behalf of handball’s global governing body, I wish to extend my heartfelt wishes for all in the handball community and beyond to navigate this unprecedented situation with care, compassion and solidarity.
The IHF is aware of the decision of numerous member federations, leagues and competitions around the world to suspend activity. We support and commend the attention to recommendations or regulations imposed by different health organisations and governments, which show that our member federations prioritise the health of all in their respective handball communities.
I wish to assure our member federations that the IHF will continue to monitor the situation with COVID-19 and be ready to adapt further to any necessary measures beyond those already taken by the IHF to ensure the health and safety of all in the handball community. We will remain in close, transparent communication with our member federations and other stakeholders, and I have invited questions and regular communication from these parties.
I would also like to inform the handball family of the latest update regarding the Olympic Games. On March 17, I participated in a video conference together with International Olympic Committee President Dr Thomas Bach, the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations and all Summer Olympic International Federation Presidents. The International Olympic Committee provided a comprehensive update on the preventative actions being taken, and stated that the activities and efforts towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the qualification events are continuing.
In this context, I would like to reinforce that the IHF were eager to hold the 2020 IHF Men’s and Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournaments as scheduled. However, the health and safety of all the participating teams and their entourages, officials, delegates, staff, fans and any other persons involved in the preparation and organisation of the OQTs are of the utmost importance to the IHF. Therefore, the IHF decided to postpone the 2020 IHF Men’s and Women’s OQTs to June 2020. The exact dates shall be announced at a later stage after evaluating the development of the COVID-19 virus.
Furthermore, the IHF have postponed the IHF Trophy as well as Handball at School courses scheduled in the near future. Regarding the summer calendar of events, including the IHF Women’s Junior and Youth World Championships, a decision will be made should it become necessary, based on the developing situation. The health of those involved as well as the guidelines from authorities will be the priority, however, for now the situation as it will be in July and August is not yet known, so continual monitoring and proactive management are crucial.
In addition, to preserve the health of our staff members and support the concerted efforts to proactively limit the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus, as of 16 March 2020, IHF staff members have been working from home, conducting their usual activities so far as possible and also handling additional tasks as required in the current situation until further notice.
By taking these measures, the IHF aims to be ready to resume all usual activities as soon as it is possible and responsible to do so, under the guidelines of the relevant health and governing authorities.
Lastly, to support the measures adopted by governments and regulators around the world, I strongly advise you to follow the recommendations from the World Health Organisation and health authorities in order to protect yourself and others from the COVID-19 virus.
Together, we look confidently ahead to the day that handball returns to courts around the world. Handball is always in our hearts and minds.
Dr Hassan Moustafa
President of the International Handball Federation