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Warm-up: from challenges to opportunities
  1. Genevieve Renaud1,2,
  2. Christopher Napier3,4
  1. 1 Sport Physiotherapy Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2 Ottawa Osteopathy & Sports Therapy, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3 Department of Physical Therapy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  4. 4 Mechatronic Systems Engineering, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Christopher Napier, Department of Physical Therapy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; chris.napier{at}

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The day the world stopped

Twenty-six months ago, the WHO announced that COVID-19 could be characterised as a pandemic. Most of us initially thought we might have to cancel our March break plans, stay home for a few weeks, maybe for a month. Few could have imagined the impact that COVID-19 would have on our lives.

Sport was paralysed by the pandemic and, therefore, affected every aspect of our livelihood. From cancelled events and travel to implementing new systems to allow us to learn, work and interact with one another, our profession needed to pivot quickly. As early as February 2020, Chinese athletes started to withdraw from events and World Cups in China were cancelled. Events worldwide in every discipline were cancelled or postponed as of early March for what we thought might be a few weeks. And then the unprecedented happened; the Olympic Games were postponed. How could such a large event, with athletes from 206 nations be held safely while maintaining competitive integrity?

Lessons learnt

The sporting community learnt greatly from events held in the summer of 2020 like the National Hockey League’s playoff bubble. Many of the protocols implemented in Calgary and Toronto were included in the planning for the postponed Olympics. Thanks to the lessons learnt during smaller events and much resolve from all parties involved, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were held successfully, and without any community spread of any communicable diseases. This is a remarkable achievement at an event when gastrointestinal troubles and upper respiratory infections often wreak havoc on athletes and staff. In this issue, Dr Dergaa explores lessons learnt from hosting the Olympic Games during COVID-19 and how these learnings can be applied to the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar (see page 654) .

Only 6 months after the accomplishment of putting on the Tokyo Summer Games, the world united again for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. The Omicron variant certainly tried to stop us, but our resiliency prevailed and our athletes were again able to perform, entertain and unite us all. Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties: toughness. I am in awe of the resiliency of our athletes to continue to train during these unprecedented times. From turning ice hockey rinks into decathlon training facilities to building squat racks out of wood and concrete, our athletes exhibited true grit and determination to achieve their dreams. Olympic athletes were not alone in their need to adapt their routines. We were all forced to find novel ways to ‘Train at home but not alone…’ as Mr. Jan Wilke’s aptly titled randomised controlled trial on a telehealth exercise programme during COVID-19 lockdowns explores (see page 667) . In this issue, Professor Gualano also discusses what we know and don’t know about evidence-based physical activity for COVID-19 (see page 653) .

From challenges to opportunities

The pandemic forced us all to embrace change and new protocols. I am proud of my leadership role as Chief Therapist for Team Canada in the lead up to the Beijing Winter Olympics. I am also thankful for the support from all members of the mission team and integrated support teams in the application of our stringent health protocols. This allowed all of our athletes to participate in the Games, perform at their best and produce a record number of medals, while putting their physical and mental health first.

The past 2 years have also allowed us to reflect more deeply on the importance of mental health and its impact on general wellness and performance. Athletes like Simone Biles have increased the awareness of mental health risks and challenges in elite athletes. These include the unachievable expectations for perfection, the ongoing belief that no pain equals no gain, and the enormous pressure to win at all costs.

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As we learn how to live with COVID-19, we must assess the lessons learnt during the past 2 years and challenge ourselves to implement long term changes that can benefit ourselves and our patients. Team Canada is currently assessing the impact of our health protocols and the possibility of maintaining some of these practices into the next quadrennial. Sport organisations have implemented more thorough Safe Sport protocols and must continue to educate and support for the benefit of our athletes physical and mental health. At a local level, many of us have integrated virtual rehabilitation, courses, conferences and mentorship. In a sector that had been slow to integrate new technologies, it is impressive to see the acceleration of the adoption of digital options during the pandemic.

Sport Physiotherapy Canada (SPC) has spent the past 2 years developing its new Core Competencies courses. This builds on our previous accomplishment of developing a First Responder for Health Care Professionals course partnered with the Canadian Red Cross (read more about Agnes Makowski, who spearheaded this programme, in this issue’s Service Spotlight (see page 711)) . Our goal is to decrease barriers to access to information and mentorship by implementing virtual courses for therapists preparing for the SPC Certificate and Diploma exam. The pandemic forced us to accept virtual options while also giving us the time to focus on this endeavour. Our courses launched this winter with 48 registrants! Thank you to our amazing core courses committee, an amazing group of volunteers, who have worked tirelessly to ensure the launch of this course.

In this issue, we are excited to bring you a pair of reviews on physical activity: from exercise dosage (see page 692) to protection from dementia (see page 701) . We are also pleased to present Dr Thomas Bandholm’s REPORT trial guide for effective and transparent research reporting without spin (see page 683) . In original research, we find more evidence that a generic educational programme is not effective at preventing running-related injuries (see page 676) . We also present Mr. Marcus Bateman’s ‘Development of a Core Outcome Set for Lateral Elbow Tendinopathy Using Best Available Evidence and an International Consensus Process’ (see page 657) . We hope you enjoy reading these articles as much as we enjoyed selecting them for you.

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  • Contributors GR developed the idea and wrote the first draft. All authors were responsible in writing and editing the manuscript and final approval of the submission.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.