Hundreds of thousands of adults are being denied their regular exercise opportunity under the Government’s restrictions, which limit the playing of badminton in tier 2 areas to household or support bubble only.
Badminton England figures show that almost 400,000 regular players are no longer able to exercise because of the restrictions. And, in a further blow to the sport, over 800 affiliated clubs have had their sessions stopped by the restrictions and several venues are suffering substantial losses as a result.
Adrian Christy, Chief Executive, said:
“Adults in local lockdown areas are able to attend exercise classes in groups up to 30 in the same space, while being 2 metres apart, yet they are not allowed to play socially distanced badminton across a court that is more than 13 metres long, and on opposite sides of a net, unless they are from the same household or support bubble.
“We have been extremely supportive of Government measures since the outbreak of the pandemic, and we recognise that inconsistencies in such complex situations are inevitable, but how can being 2 metres apart, in the same sports facilities, be safer than being up to 13 metres apart?
“We are calling on the Government to review this restriction and allow badminton to return to playing under the Rule of Six – large numbers of people in some of the country’s most deprived areas are missing out on their regular exercise. They will become inactive alongside the physical and mental health consequences, which are enormous.
“It's great that under 18s and disabled players can continue to play, however, many of these players are also missing out as juniors will often play alongside adults and most disabled players do so alongside non-disabled players, so these restrictions are not exclusive to adult players.”
“I am writing to Government together with colleagues at the Lawn Tennis Association. To help our campaign, I urge the whole badminton community - counties, leagues, clubs, coaches and players to write to their MP or contact them via social media and urge them to support badminton being returned to the Rule of Six.”
[@local MP] [Name of club] cannot play because of tier restrictions – 400,000 players and 800 clubs nationally. Let’s prevent a physical and mental health crisis and allow badminton to play under the Rule of Six @BadmintonEnglnd #strongertogether
Examples of the impact of Tier 2 restrictions on the badminton community include:
The Dome, Middlesex – ‘We have had to cancel 100 court hours per week, which broke our hearts to do. We are losing over £1,500 each week and over 250 people are not getting their play every week. With our location, we serve a whole range of communities in Hounslow. We had just got the older people to come back in numbers and also our late night club were asking for extra time (waiters and mini-cab drivers). So there was a lot of confidence about that our safety measures were sufficient. We should now be encouraged to open – give us some certificate for outstanding compliance. Especially when everyone can go over the border into Bucks or Surrey and are playing there’
Elmfield Badminton Club, Newcastle Upon Tyne – “Our club got up and running at the start of September for four weeks until the North East local lockdown occurred. We put all required health and safety measures in place (appointing a COVID-19 Officer, producing a COVID risk assessment, taking bookings for sessions and grouping players into bubbles) and our players commented that they felt safe and reassured when attending the sessions. We lost a significant amount of money from being unable to run our yearly summer club sessions and had hoped to recoup some of the losses but this will not be feasible if the club cannot run. A lot of our club members were disappointed when club nights had to stop and several of them are frequently asking for updates as they are desperate to get back on court, not just for their physical health and fitness but to help their mental health as well.”
Vicky Evans (full time coach): "The impact of not being able to deliver adult coaching is a disaster for me financially and impacts my mental health as I miss the social interaction. I know from experience that I can run safe sessions for adults with positive fitness and mental well-being outcomes for the participants at the heart of it. The Return To Play guidelines are there to protect everyone and working within those parameters enables us to continue to deliver safe sessions."