Lack of in­door venues could lose next gen­er­a­tion

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Tom Mor­gan

Grass-roots sport is sac­ri­fic­ing a gen­er­a­tion of participan­ts while two-thirds of in­door fa­cil­i­ties re­main un­us­able un­til the au­tumn and be­yond, gov­ern­ing bod­ies warned yes­ter­day.

The chief ex­ec­u­tives in charge of the na­tion’s bad­minton, net­ball, wheel­chair rugby, ta­ble ten­nis and bas­ket­ball bod­ies all say their sports have hit a “brick wall” due to Covid-19 lock­down mea­sures which have meant that in­door play­ing spa­ces have al­most dis­ap­peared. The im­pact has been dev­as­tat­ing for bad­minton, which is Bri­tain’s fourth-most pop­u­lar par­tic­i­pa­tion sport.

“Two-thirds of leisure fa­cil­i­ties are closed, with no real clear road map as to when they will be open,” Adrian Christy, the Bad­minton Eng­land chief ex­ec­u­tive, said. “Bad­minton is played by four mil­lion peo­ple, but we have hit a brick wall un­til this is re­solved.

“There are 232 fa­cil­i­ties un­able to open and, for us, that’s about 16,000 courts. We don’t want to see a gen­er­a­tion of play­ers lost to sport.”

In a joint state­ment, the gov­ern­ing bod­ies for bad­minton, net­ball, bas­ket­ball, vol­ley­ball and ta­ble ten­nis called on the Gov­ern­ment to pro­tect in­door sports halls from “be­ing sac­ri­ficed as over­flow gyms, or, in some cases, not re­open­ing at all”. The ma­jor­ity of other reg­u­lar venues, such as schools or uni­ver­si­ties, also re­main closed.

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