The University of Pretoria’s Sport, Exercise, Medicine and Lifestyle Institute (SEMLI) was started in June 2015, by its director Martin Schwellnus. Its evolution since then directly translates its endeavours into ultimate success for each athlete they encounter. As a whole, SEMLI consists of a diverse team of professionals and various methodological approaches. Their work will not only lead to the health and well being of athletes, but provide intervention to minimise any possible injuries and supply scientific and translational research. The team of SEMLI did not stand back when the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on the lives of people, and especially those of recreational and professional sport capacity. SEMLI correspondingly launched a research study on the effects of COVID-19 in association with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Research Centre of South Africa. The Athletes with Acute Respiratory Infection (AWARE), research study involves various local academic institutions such as the University of the Witwatersrand, as well as diverse international academic institutions, such as the University of Melbourne, and sport organisations, namely FIFA.

Martin Schwellnus told PDBY that “the decision as to when it is safe for an athlete with recent or current symptoms of an acute respiratory infection to return to exercise remains one of the most challenging clinical decisions for a sport-and-exercise medicine physician, or health professional involved in the management of athletes”. He furthermore explained that 50% of all illness in general causes a critical dysfunction in the respiratory tract of athletes, and COVID-19 complicates matters further as it presents a threat to vital organs of the human body. Overall, they hope to track a linear pattern of symptoms and the recovery process to create return-to-play guidelines and checks for symptomatic athletes that are accurate and of beneficial use. Coupled with SEMLI’s holistic guidance in the success of an athlete, the institution faced COVID-19 head on to ensure that it will not cause a roadblock in the path of success for the well-being of professional athletes. To partake in this study and find out more about their research contact: aware_covid@semli.

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