Covid Guidance update

usjf logoletter heading

COVID-19 Pandemic 2020-21

(Update #13 – March 1, 2021)

Updates added on March 1, 2021, are highlighted in LIGHT BLUE.

Thank you very much to Dr. Ricardo Joseph, Dr. Eric Chen, and Dr. Jeffrey Fujimoto 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.

  • Distribution and coordinated/scheduled administration of FDA approved COVID vaccines has begun nationwide. We strongly recommend that members of the judo community consider getting vaccinated when the vaccine becomes available in your locality.
  • Please consult with your primary care physician to determine which vaccine best suits you and your medical condition(s).
  • We anticipate that vaccines may change the landscape of how dojos will reopen. At this time, it is still too early to make recommendations without further data on the actual efficacy of the vaccines.
  • 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 at
  • 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
  • Though some states may have relaxed their restrictions and moved into higher phases and more allowable activities, many states are experiencing a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. This may lead to a return to lower phases and renewed restrictions. Please keep abreast of the latest developments in your area/jurisdiction and maintain proper observance and compliance with the phase status and guidance. You must be sure to move with the change in phases and adjust activities accordingly.
  • Reminder… We are using the phases and descriptions from the USOPC guidelines. These USOPC guidelines DO NOT SUPERCEDE your local/county/state health guidelines. You must make sure that your operations comply with your local/county/state health guidelines. Please ensure compliance by keeping up-to-date with your situation. Non-compliance with your local/county/state health guidelines means noncompliance with the warranty provisions of insurance coverages = no insurance coverage = everyone participates at their own risk.
  • COVID-19 Liability: Our liability policies DO NOT provide liability coverage for epidemic & pandemic diseases.
  • COVID-19 Accident Medical: Our accident medical policy DOES NOT provide
    coverage for any COVID-19 pandemic related: infection, illness, injury, disability, death, economic loss, and etc.

Dojo Reopening Guidelines:

Please read through thoroughly the Dojo Reopening Guidelines document:

Reminder: you must check and be current in your compliance with local health regulations on whether or not direct contact activities are allowed. Some direct contact may be allowed if certain conditions are met. REGULATIONS ARE VERY STATE DEPENDENT. Know your state/local rules and regulations and carefully adhere to and implement them.

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.

Please continue to be vigilant. It has been a long eleven (11) months and everyone is anxious to get back on the tatami to start training again and to spend time with our judo family. We are all fatigued with the bombardment of the issues and problems brought by COVID-19 and its effect on all of our lives. We must all continue to be patient. Unfortunately, many states and regions are undergoing another surge in the number of people testing positive with the COVID-19 virus. Additional caution is necessary as we are now heading into the start of the cold and flu season. As the health and safety of our members and students is the paramount concern, we must continue to make the appropriate decisions to ensure their safety and protection. Please be very cognizant and current on your local public guidelines.

Though too new to have enough study data available, COVID-19 infections may have some long-term negative effects on some individuals after they recover from it. So, it is best to avoid getting exposed/infected by it. When in doubt, please make the safe/conservative choice.

Insurance Coverage Update:

On September 1, 2020, our new insurance policies for the new 2021 Fiscal Year, become effective. There are some major changes and they are briefly outlined here.

COVID-19 Liability: Our liability policies DO NOT provide liability coverage for epidemic & pandemic diseases. The current COVID-19 crisis has been declared a pandemic by both the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Therefore, any claims/lawsuits brought against you due to COVID-19: infection, illness, injury, disability, death, economic loss, and etc. WILL NOT BE DEFENDED BY THE LIABLITY INSURANCE POLICIES.

COVID-19 Accident Medical: Our accident medical policy does not provide coverage for any COVID-19 pandemic related: infection, illness, injury, disability, death, economic loss, and etc.
The policy is intended to respond to accidental injuries incurred while doing sanctioned or approved judo. For example: sprains, broken limbs, dislocations, and etc. It does NOT respond to claims arising from allergies, usual colds & flu, COVID-19, chickenpox and other communicable disease illness. The accident medical policy is NOT a replacement for your own health insurance/coverage. It is NOT a primary coverage policy and responds on a secondary basis in conjunction with your own health insurance.

Return To Activity/Training After COVID-19 Infection:

There can be many lingering side effects of having had a COVID-19 infection. Athletes should consult with their healthcare provider before returning to physical activity after COVID-19 infection. Depending on the severity of infection, additional testing may be indicated before initiating a strenuous exercise program.

Myocarditis, or inflammation of heart muscle is a known complication of COVID-19 infection. However, the need for additional cardiac testing is controversial and any additional testing that is performed should be decided by the athlete’s healthcare provider after a careful evaluation and discussion with the athlete and athlete’s family if they are a minor or have other serious medical comorbidities.

We recommend athletes receive COVID-19 vaccination when eligible after known infection.

We suggest athletes follow these guidelines:

  1. Asymptomatic COVID-19 infection:
    (i.e., athlete was exposed to COVID-19, never had symptoms, but tested positive)
    At least 2 weeks of rest (no judo activity) with gradual return to judo activities. If the athlete develops unusual chest pain, dizziness, lightheadedness, passes out, or other concerning symptoms we recommend cessation of judo activities and seek additional evaluation by healthcare provider. Minors should consult with a pediatrician prior to returning to play.
  2. Symptomatic COVID-19 infection:
    We highly recommend consultation with a healthcare provider prior to returning to judo activities. We recommend at least 2 weeks of rest (no judo activity) after becoming asymptomatic. Decreased exercise tolerance is common after COVID-19 infection, but chest pain, lightheadedness, dizziness, passing out, or other concerning symptoms, may be red flags for a more serious condition. Athletes should monitor symptoms closely as they return to more strenuous activity and seek medical consultation for concerning symptoms.

Return To Training Phases: 1-3 unchanged • 4-5 UPDATED:

Please be current and cognizant of the situation in your locale to ensure proper compliance with current rules and requirements.

Please keep in mind that the handling & treatments for the COVID-19 pandemic is a live, real-time experiment worldwide. It is impossible to impose a definitive timeline on the phased resumption of normal activity as the situation is very dynamic and fluid. Consequently, the return to activity phases depend on the situation and circumstance in your local jurisdiction. Your local public health authority’s assessments will determine the mandates/edicts they issue. It is vitally important that you are current and have a good understanding of these mandates/edicts. Please follow them closely to be compliant with public health standards. This will help you to protect the health and safety of your students, yourselves, and your community.

Regarding COVID-19 Testing:

There are now many different COVID-19 testing protocols and kits available. There are huge variations in pricing with little detailed information available regarding the accuracy and validity of these tests. Also, not all tests are available everywhere. This being so, though testing is important, it is difficult to recommend a particular protocol/test for people to take. Therefore, WE ARE NOT MAKING TESTING A REQUIREMENT.

Mandatory Temperature Checks:

Temperature checks are MANDATORY for everyone prior to entering the dojo/club/training facility once we reach Phase 3 & 4. The maximum acceptable temperature for entry is 100.4°F/38° C. Someone with a temperature that is higher than this is considered to have a fever.

Phase 1: Public health authorities require shelter in place, public training facilities are closed
Dojos/clubs remain CLOSED. Individual home training & Virtual coaching ONLY.

Phase 2: Public health authorities lift shelter in place requirements, but continue to prohibit group activities and public training facilities remain closed
Dojos/clubs remain CLOSED. Individual home training & Virtual coaching ONLY.

Phase 3: Public health authorities allow small group activities (< 10 people), but public training facilities remain closed
Dojos/clubs remain CLOSED. Individual home training & Virtual coaching ONLY.

Phase 4: Public health authorities allow public training facilities to open WITH limitations on group size.
Dojos/clubs may OPEN for individual training in small groups ONLY if social distancing and masking are maintained. Check with state and local health authorities if direct contact may be allowed. Continue infection prevention methods.

Phase 5: A vaccine or cure for COVID-19 is developed and distributed to the public at large.
Dojos resume large group training in accordance with local public health regulations.

Athletes with prior COVID-19 infection may resume direct contact following the guidelines above. Continue infection prevention as previously.
Continue infection prevention methods.

Please know the current phase in your local area/jurisdiction, apply, and adhere to it.

Visitor Log:

If your dojo/club is OPEN or hosting/conducting any activities, please use a visitor log to have a listing of everyone who comes into the dojo/club. This includes: vendors, guests, visitors, parents, friends, relatives, potential students, students, athletes, and instructional staff. Basically, ANYONE who walks in the door. You should capture: the date that they were there, the person’s name, a contact telephone number, and their temperature. A sample visitor log can be found on the last page of this document. Please feel free to make copies and use it.

If someone in the dojo tests positive for COVID-19, you should call everyone who has been exposed to let them know of the exposure so that they can take appropriate action. If someone tests positive, it is very likely that the local public health department will follow-up and conduct some contact tracing. Having good visitor logs will help facilitate their contact tracing efforts. Here’s a link to the CDC page on contact tracing:

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:

Limited resumption of judo activities may be acceptable depending on local public health regulations. Please check with your local health authorities regarding acceptable sporting activities. Please refer to Dojo Reopening Guidelines for additional guidance on resuming judo activity and infection prevention.

Elite Athletes (Seniors & IJF Juniors):

Elite athletes may need to be handled differently depending upon their respective short-term competitive goals. 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.
For those who are engaged in direct contact training, please continue to confine your training to your small group of training partners. The virus is still too very rampant and infectious to safely expand your training group at this time. Expanding the size of your training team is expanding your potential exposure to COVID-19. Please continue with conservative measures to keep your training partners and yourself safe.

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 workout 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, and 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.
      7. Clean feet with antibacterial/antiviral wipes every time one steps on to the mat.

Maintaining Social Distancing & Spacing:

A good way to maintain some social distancing and spacing is to give your athletes their own 6’ x 6’ space to work in…

      1. Envision your mat space as a grid with 6’ x 6’ squares (modified checker/chess board)
      2. Use removable tape on your mat surface to define the 6’ x 6’ grid
      3. Tear the tape and remove them in between the light or odd squares
      4. Skip over a row (leave empty) and go to the next row
      5. Tear the tape and remove them in between the dark or even squares
      6. Repeat steps 3-5 until you are complete
      7. This should leave you with 6’ x 6’ squares that are surrounded by 6’ of free space for your athletes to work in

exercise grid

Use Face Masks:

We encourage the use of face masks. Especially during the times when appropriate to do so: bowing in and out at the start and end of the class/practice, during times when there is group instruction, during lectures/talks. Furthermore, we encourage the use of face masks by all family, friends, guests, and visitors while they are inside of the dojo.

It is obviously a bit problematic to require the wearing of face masks while engaged in tachiwaza or newaza randori. It is certainly reasonable to require the wearing of face masks when engaged in less than rigorous activities. It helps to keep everyone mindful of the current pandemic and public health guidelines. The additional efforts to be diligent will likely be helpful in creating a safer and thoughtful environment for your current and potentially new members.

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.

USJF Sanctioned Events:

Starting April 1, 2021, the National Office will start accepting applications for sanctioned events occurring on or after May 1, 2021. Sanctions will be granted and approved only for jurisdictions where the state and local regulations allow the activity. The event organizer/director agrees to implement the rules and protocols described in the USJF COVID Event Guidelines. The current revision for download is:

USJF National Office Update:

In compliance with government recommendations and mandates, the USJF National Office will continue to operate with the staff generally working remotely from home as much as possible. We are observing social distancing by having only one (1) person in the office at any time. Much of our communication comes through the USPS mail. We will pick up and process our USPS mail as normal. As much as possible, work will be distributed and handled remotely. Though we will continue to answer the telephone, we strongly encourage you to communicate with us via email during these times. The National Office will continue operations in the current manner until “stay at home” mandates/restrictions are completely lifted.

Next Update On April 1, 2021.

At this time, we plan to issue an update on April 1, 2021. 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, Dr. Fujimoto, or myself if you have any additional questions or concerns. Our contact information is listed below.

Best Regards,

USJF National Medical Committee

Rick Joseph, MD, Chairperson
(C): 734-717-0943
(C): 408-887-6544

Eric Chen, MD, Member

Jeffrey Fujimoto, MD, Member

Attendance & Visitors Log