UPDATE 6/9/20 – RETURNING TO rOLLER dERBY

The WFTDA recognizes that the impacts of COVID-19 are vastly different in regions around the world where roller derby is played. Because local and national governments have a variety of guidelines around resocialization following the pandemic, our recommendations are based on our value of maintaining the safety and welfare of our members to the best of our ability.

Keeping our community, and communities who come in contact with WFTDA members, as safe and healthy as possible should be a primary goal for every skater, official, coach, announcer, and support staff member we come in contact with.

Therefore, we ask member organizations to consider the current count of COVID-19 cases in their regions to assess their readiness to return to roller derby activities. If your league meets the Baseline Conditions, you can consider returning to play but are not obligated to do so. However, any WFTDA league that wants to return should be utilizing our best practices.

It is important to remind members that WFTDA Rankings have been adjusted for the foreseeable future in order to freeze rankings and then to allow for the gradual return to play without rankings pressure. We wish to de-emphasize our international competitive pathways until we have adequate scientific evidence that widespread international competition is safe again. WFTDA Competitive Play and WFTDA Rankings are working together to review and adjust our structures and rankings program moving forward to account  for the health, travel and economic needs of our member leagues as the world adjusts to COVID-19.

WFTDA Statement on Audiences and Roller Derby

The WFTDA believes that re-engaging in the sport is a personal and difficult choice for leagues, especially those hardest hit by COVID-19. The guidelines in this plan are meant specifically and solely for participants of the sport, and we have paused our WFTDA competitive pathways in an effort to de-emphasize in-person fan engagement.

While we agree that some leagues may be ready to attempt a return, exposing non-participants to potential risk of infection for the benefit of our sport is not acceptable. Until there are tangible interventions, including vaccines, meaningful therapeutics, widespread testing of cases and/or antibodies, community immunity, or other factors making audiences ethically viable, we do not recommend your league welcome in-person audiences at this time.

However, we do recognize that the Return-to-Play Ladder can help us determine the readiness of WFTDA roller derby to take on this important shift to public events again, and we are working on developing broadcast solutions to help leagues stay engaged with their communities and roller derby fans worldwide.

Ladder of Reintegration

Because we cannot know the reach and duration of regional infections, we recommend a tiered system, or “ladder of reintegration”, based on the severity of COVID-19 in your area.

The ladder system allows a league to step up a level to increase activity, or down a level to decrease it, as follows:

  • This ladder provides a graduated system of guidelines and recommendations for leagues to step up from local to regional to interregional and eventually to global play. It utilizes a series of 14-day waiting periods to allow for an assessment of the impact of increased activity on league health and wellness before again increasing activity.
  • If your area continues to see new community-spread COVID-19 cases, as outlined in the Baseline Conditions for starting the process, you are not eligible to begin stepping onto the ladder system.
  • Once your local government has official guidelines on re-socialization that allow for public congregations of at least 50 and do not prevent recreating with non-contact, the WFTDA recommends waiting an additional 14 days to assess the local status of the virus before starting Tier One.
  • After starting a tier, the WFTDA recommends remaining at that level of activity for at least another 14-days to ensure that the increase in activity does not have a negative impact on your league members and that resumed activity in your region does not also have a negative impact on your region.
  • If conditions change at any time when you are on the ladder, you should step down or off the ladder and re-introduce steps as needed to protect the safety and wellbeing of skaters, officials, and supporters in your league.
  • If someone in your league, or their immediate household, becomes infected with COVID-19, your league must step off the ladder and restart each tier for the recommended 14-day intervals.
  • Leagues must go through every tier of the ladder for at least a 14-day interval and should not skip tiers or start at a tier greater than Tier 1, regardless of COVID-19 case count and trends in their respective areas.
  • This system also seeks to limit activities in such a way as to be able to assess the difference between community-spread of the virus, where league and/or local community members are seeing increased infection, and travel-spread, where there is a danger of others coming into a region and bringing infection, or residents returning to a region and bringing infection.
    • Travel is not recommended at the early stages of the ladder to ensure that it is not a factor in assessing the impact of league activity.
    • Once leagues are considered ready for inter-league mixing, travel is limited to leagues in close proximity of each other before extending to more regional, then domestic short-haul, then domestic long-haul and international travel.
  • Finally, until a commercially available vaccine is in place, the WFTDA does not recommend large events and events of any size with audiences.
    • Should a vaccine not be available for the virus, this requirement may be lifted should the testing, contact tracing and therapeutic programs be enough to ensure the safety of audiences. This decision will be made by WFTDA’s health task force, Risk Management Committee and Board of Directors.

Self-Reporting and Community Data Sharing

This system is reliant on self-reporting, both on the part of the participant and the league. WFTDA does not require reporting on testing or vaccinations, however, we believe very strongly that each individual person and league is responsible for doing what is necessary to uphold the values of our sport and to keep others safe.

Symptom-checking should be done at home prior to participating in any roller derby or league activity and league policies should allow participants to not participate should they fear infection or infecting others. Leagues should postpone or cancel events and step down in their roller derby participation should they see infection in their league or a 7-day increase in infections in their locality/region.

Finally, the WFTDA believes that, without adequate medical interventions widely available for COVID-19, the best way to prevent and manage the spread of the infection in the sport of roller derby will be creating public data to share and review. We are creating a system via our Member Portal for leagues to report their status on the Return to Play ladder. League tiers will be used to create a data visualization map that will be publicly available to assist the WFTDA and our roller derby community by tracking our collective health and return-to-play decisions. More information on this system and on the impact of COVID on the sanctioning process will be available here in the coming weeks.

Below are links to important information to consider before returning to play.

WFTDA COVID-19 Guidelines to Return to Roller Derby


PLEASE NOTE this virus is no reason or excuse to be racist or xenophobic. The WFTDA Code of Conduct is still very much in effect, and we recommend you remind league members about your own Code of Conduct as well.

For more information:

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