Alongside the UK’s sport and physical activity sector, England Boxing is urging the Government to save grassroots sport, fitness and leisure facilities from permanent closure due to the pandemic.
It comes as part of the launch of a new campaign called #SaveOurSports, which brings together leaders from more than 150 bodies.
As part of the campaign, the leaders wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in September asking him to provide ringfenced funding for the recovery of the sport and activity sector – or risk fuelling physical inactivity and related illnesses for a generation.
Gethin Jenkins, Chief Executive Officer of England Boxing stated: “We understand not only the physical and mental health strains that the current situation is putting on our Member clubs but also the financial implications as well. That is why we are fully behind the #SaveOurSports campaign as boxing and gyms form a key part of grassroots sport right across the country, particularly in the most deprived areas.”
Whilst restrictions have been put in place on indoor group exercise in Scotland and Northern Ireland through their stricter guidelines, gyms and leisure centres remain open for individual users.
The sport and physical activity sector request replicates that already provided to the culture and arts sector, which faces many of the same challenges, and is already benefiting from a sizeable rescue fund of £1.57bn as well as a VAT reduction to 5%.
At the same time, it is being permitted to stage socially distanced performing arts events with audiences at both indoor and outdoor venues.
The Tier 2 and 3 restrictions announced by Government limit opportunities to participate in adult indoor sporting activity to within a single household/bubble, despite the strict health protocols that indoor sports operators have put in place to ensure that they are COVID-secure.
This will have a further financial impact for indoor sport and leisure facilities in England, as well as on the health and wellbeing of those who cannot take part in these sports outdoors in the winter months.
Last month, data reported by ukactive from more than 1,500 community sport and leisure facilities, accounting for more than 22 million public visits, showed just 78 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among customers in England (a rate of 0.34 cases per 100,000 visits).
Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive added: “In order for our sector to continue to be on the frontline of the nation’s recovery from Covid-19, it requires urgent support. Jobs need to be protected and facilities maintained in order to deliver vital community services.
“Without government intervention, we risk losing a huge proportion of these community assets, which will put a great strain on the health and wellbeing of the nation as we approach these long winter months. This would have a huge impact on our NHS’s ability to manage the pandemic.”
Lisa Wainwright, CEO of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, also stated: “The sport and physical activity sector is unified in its voice that more needs to be done by Government to protect the sector.
“We are delighted to see that the Government is looking to support the larger professional sports, who have been significantly impacted by a lack of matchday revenue, however it is now vital that attentions are turned to the impacts Covid-19 is having on community sport and physical activity.
“The health, wellbeing and prosperity of the nation needs to be protected through a Sports Recovery Fund that ensures our sector is not another victim of Covid-19.”
The group invited clubs and individuals to support the cause by sharing their message of support for the #SaveOurSports campaign on social media, using the campaign hashtag and explaining why grassroots sport is so vital to you.
As well as writing to your constituency MP (contacts details can be found here) outlining the negative impact that will be felt should the Sports Recovery Fund not be made available.