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Badminton England CEO, Adrian Christy, writes to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on restart plans

Following this week’s announcement that indoor gyms and leisure facilities will be unable to open on 4 July, Badminton England CEO, Adrian Christy, has written to the Prime Minister urging clarity on when the sector can expect to reopen and indoor badminton restart. The sector has offered to work closely with the Government in order to provide a swift resolution. 

The letter can be found in full below: 

 

Dear Prime Minister 

Your government has continually stressed the importance of sport and physical activity in the life of the nation but your decision earlier this week to refuse the reopening of indoor sports facilities from 4 July, is not only contrary to your own roadmap, it's in complete contradiction to everything I felt that you held true.

Over the past two months, Badminton England has worked with your Government officials, Sport England, ukactive, the Sport and Recreation Alliance and other respected parties, to develop safe return guidelines that would have unlocked the door to the heartbeat of British sport; its grass roots. 

The work with your officials and understanding the absolute necessity to create a safe environment, Badminton England has prepared its own guidelines for the return of our sport that incorporates adaptations that comply with all social distancing measures. To bring this to life for you, on court, any players from outside the same household, will not be closer than 4m and could be up to 12m apart at any given moment while playing.  

I therefore struggle to understand how these distancing measures can possibly be considered unsafe; they will certainly be socially distanced far more than other areas of society that you have permitted to reopen. 

I also ask you to consider the social, physical, and mental impact of your decision. 

Badminton provides people across the nation with the opportunity to participate in healthy activity and re-establish important social connections - as much for their mental health as their physical health. People now need to connect again, and badminton provides a vital way to do.  

Badminton is one of the UK’s most participated sports. Over a quarter of a million adults play badminton in local communities all over the UK every week. Almost 3.5million people played badminton last year.  

It is also a sport that demonstrates a significant contribution to wider Government objectives: 

  

  • Research conducted by the Mental Health Foundation showed that 2.5 hours of exercise a week can cut the chance of depression by a third – a badminton participant will, on average, play for 1 to 2 hours a week 

 

  • Badminton is estimated to have generated £158 million in social value across the UK leisure facilities  

  

  • A recent study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine of more than 80,000 British men and women found there to be a 47% reduction in the mortality rate for those who play racket sports, as opposed to a 27% reduction for those who take aerobic exercise.  

  

  • The same study found playing racket sports also reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease mortality by 56%, and that participants were 30-50 per cent less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes 

  

  • Research in Copenhagen that tracked the lifetime activity of 9,000 people for up to 25 years as part a long-running study into heart health identified that racket sports with an strong and enriched social connectedness– such as badminton – alongside team sports can extend longevity by as much as 9 years. 

   

Facilities, and facility operators, stand on a cliff-edge and community sport is at risk through the potential loss of places where people love to take part in healthy activity. With every passing day, more people in the physical activity sector risk losing their jobs.

We need you to act now. My urgent request to you is to provide us with a clear guidance how, and a definitive date when, indoor sports facilities can reopen. We need this certainty now from your Government 

Prime Minister, I appreciate that there are tough decisions for Government to take as we ease the restrictions brought on by Covid-19, however we can be part of the solution.  

Badminton England, and its wider community, can be trusted to help you to ‘open-up’ and engage communities through sport. Let us do our job and allow us to help you play our part in Britain’s recovery from the pandemic. Please allow us to help you create a healthier nation which has community activity and integration at its heart.  

If you genuinely believe in the benefits of healthy, active communities, I implore you to act now and treat the reopening of indoor sports facilities as an urgent priority for the on-going health of the nation. 

  

Yours sincerely 

  

Adrian Christy 
Chief Executive