Recommendations from the USJF Medical Committee about COVID-19

COVID-19 Pandemic 2020

(March 14, 2020)

Thank you very much to Dr. Ricardo Joseph and Dr. Eric Chen of the USJF Medical Committee for their time and expertise in helping to put together this information along with recommendations for our community. This will be helpful for everyone as we all work through the trying & difficult times ahead.

This document provides recommendations from the USJF Medical Committee on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

  • We must all behave responsibly to protect own health, but also to protect everyone’s health by not contracting, carrying, and transmitting the COVID-19 virus to others.
  • These recommendations are based on the current and most up-to-date information and data available at the time of creation. This was accomplished by researching and reviewing guidelines published by various sports medicine organizations, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
  • We remind you that the COVID-19 pandemic is a rather fluid and sometimes chaotic environment with occasionally conflicting medical information.
  • Keep yourself informed with the latest information, developments, and situation by visiting the CDC’s COVID-19 page.
  • Also visit your state’s health department website, and keep up with your local news. Empowerment though knowledge and education is critical.
  • It is vitally important for everyone to be mindful that each individual’s health situation is unique and may require different strategies. Thus, we strongly recommend that people consult with their primary care physician/doctor/medical professional to ensure that they are taking the appropriate measures that are what is safest and most effective for their
    personal situation.
  • These are general recommendations. It is NOT our intent to circumvent or replace the advice or directives from your primary care physician/doctor/medical professional.
  • We encourage compliance with government recommendations, regulations,
    requirements, and laws.
  • Our intent is to help keep all of our members safe while still retaining some flexibility for our high-level elite athletes.

Here is a pdf for distribution

Everyone Must Be Responsible & Diligent

Everyone involved (including coaches, parents, and spectators) will have to closely monitor their health and truly strive to remain healthy. We all have to realize and accept the fact that if anyone in our group gets sick/infected, with the COVID-19 virus, we will have to assume that we are ALL INFECTED until proven otherwise.

Athletes Who Are 60+ Years Old or Have Underlying Health Conditions

Anyone over the age of 60, people with underlying health conditions, or are immune system compromised should stay off the tatami and away from the dojo. These individuals are at a higher risk for serious potentially life-threatening illness from COVID-19.

Recreational Athletes

There is no compelling reason that outweighs the potential dangers posed by COVID-19 for any recreational athlete to be on the tatami right now. We strongly advise that all “grassroots” clubs/dojos cease all activities IMMEDIATELY. Though the amount of time that the prohibition should remain in effect is debatable, we suggest that six (6) weeks is a reasonable amount of time to start with.

Elite Athletes (Seniors & IJF Juniors)

Elite athletes may need to be handled differently depending upon their respective short-term competitive goals. All major national and international tournaments that were scheduled for this month or April have been postponed for at least 1-2 months. The IJF and PJC have suspended all activities through April 30, 2020. In the meantime elite players will likely still have to maintain some sort of limited or restrained work-out schedule in order to remain competitive. For this small group we recommend that they strictly limit the number of partners involved in close contact with one another. Best practice would be one (1) training partner per person without intermingling. Minimize contact time and liberally substitute conditioning and timing drills for heavy newaza and randori. Using alternative training methods such as exercise machines/devices, resistance bands or tire inner tubes for uchikomi, and etc.

Personal Hygiene & New Habits

Now is a great opportunity to develop some great personal hygiene habits. Of critical importance is hygiene both before and after any training session.

  1. All judogi’s should be completely clean and laundered before any training session.
  2. Belts can easily be vectors for transmitting disease too. There is no need to wear your brand new IJF Approved Mizuno or Adidas black belt to practice at this time. Wear an old white one and throw in the washer with your judogi after every work-out for the next month or so.
  3. Athletes should shower, lather up, and scrub vigorously before and after training sessions that involve close personal contact with a training partner.
  4. Obviously, there should be NO SHARING of towels, water bottles, liquids, food, snacks, supplements, etc.
  5. Weights, machines, and other training aids should be wiped down using an appropriate cleaning solution between users.
  6. Use hand sanitizer every time one enters or exits the dojo.

Dojo Cleaning

For dojos, best practice would be to:

  1. Disinfect mats before and after training with a diluted bleach solution. Mixing these proportions of bleach and water can make the bleach cleaning solution:
    • 5 tablespoons or 1/3rd cup of bleach per gallon of water
      OR 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water
  2. Disinfect high touch areas such as doorknobs, handrails, benches and lockers.
  3. If possible, place hand sanitizer at entrances and exits.

The bleach solution is very effective and the most economical, but here is a link to a list of commercially available disinfectants that should have antiviral activity against COVID-19 and other pathogens:

The key for any of this to work is that you must allow the solution to dry for at least 5 minutes for the full antiviral/antimicrobial effect.


  1. As the bleach solution does contain bleach, it may affect the color/finish of whatever comes into contact with the bleach solution. It may also bleach-out or cause colors to fade, burn materials. Adversely affected items may include and not be limited to things like: clothing, painted objects, furniture, furnishings, cloth materials, leather, colored items, cloth, materials, metals, plastics, rubber, carpets, rugs, wood, paper, and etc.
  2. Do NOT MIX the bleach or bleach water with any other chemicals or cleaning products. Mixing bleach with products containing acid or ammonia will result in the creation and release of HIGHLY TOXIC CHLORINE GAS and other dangerous by-products. Exposure to chlorine gas can cause serious permanent long-term injury and can be lethal.
  3. It would be prudent to use appropriate protective clothing & devices such as safety eyewear & gloves to protect your eyes and avoid any/prolonged contact with your skin.
  4. Be sure that there is adequate ventilation when using bleach or the bleach solution.
  5. Please be sure to take appropriate precautions to avoid any accidents, spills, and other foreseeable problems and dangers.

Next Update On April 17, 2020

At this time, we plan to issue an update on April 17, 2020. Should conditions change/worsen to an extent that further restrictions on elite athletes or any other actions are advisable, we will issue updated pertinent guidance at that time.

Additional comments from Dr. Joseph:

Again, this is a very unique and dynamic situation and these recommendations may need to be modified as new information and national guidelines become available. Please do not hesitate to contact either Dr. Chen or myself if you have any additional questions or concerns. Our contact information is listed below.

Best Regards,

(C): 734-717-0943

(C): 408-887-6544

Here is a pdf for distribution